Separatists lose Catalan majority as Spain Socialists surge

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's Socialists won a clear victory in Sunday's Catalan regional election, in which Carles Puigdemont and fellow separatists lost their majority after 10 years in power.

The vote came six years after Puigdemont led a botched 2017 independence bid that triggered Spain's worst political crisis in decades.

Led by Salvador Illa, Spain's health minister during the pandemic, the Catalan Socialist party won 42 of the regional parliament's 135 seats — nine more than in the previous election in 2021.

Hailing the result as "historic" in a posting on X, Sanchez said it would mark the start of "a new era in Catalonia".

"A new era for all Catalans, whatever they think," said Illa as his supporters cheered his victory.

It was a major victory for Sanchez, who had wanted to show that his policy of defusing tensions triggered by the Catalan crisis had worked, ultimately reducing pro-independence sentiment in this wealthy northeastern region of eight million people.

And it gives him some much-needed breathing space after a difficult start to his latest term in office which began in November and has been soured by right-wing opposition and a graft probe into his wife that almost caused him to resign.

Since becoming premier in 2018 in the months following the failed separatist bid, Sanchez has sought to "heal the wounds" caused by the unprecedented political crisis

In 2021, he pardoned the separatists jailed over the secession bid and is currently advancing an amnesty bill for those still wanted by the justice system in exchange for key separatist backing that let him secure a new term in office.

 No more separatist majority 

In gaining more than 200,000 votes, the...

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