Catalonia has voted - what comes next?
The three separatist parties have maintained their majority in the elections in Catalonia. Together they won 70 of the 135 seats in the Catalan parliament. The single biggest winner with 37 seats was the liberal centre-right party Ciudadanos, which strongly opposes secession from Spain, however it lacks coalition partners. Commentators conclude that the vote hasn't solved the problems but has at least brought clarity.
The problems have only just begun
Nothing has been solved by these elections, the Berliner Zeitung writes in resignation:
“Although so many exciting things have happened in the past months, the Catalonians remained unmoved. They held to their basic convictions: for or against independence. ... Looking closely there are two winners: Inés Arrimadas, who eleven years after its founding made the liberal Ciutadans the strongest power by far among the parties loyal to Spain, and Carles Puigdemont, who many had written off as a political force after he fled to Belgium. ... But neither Arrimadas nor Puigdemont will be able to enjoy their victory to the full: everything points to the former being relegated to the role of opposition leader and the latter ending up behind bars. Catalonia is in a bind. And the problems have only just begun.”
A clear statement against the extremes
After months of tensions the regional elections have at least made some things clearer, Público counters:
“The first is the enormous political mobilisation: the abstention rate of roughly 18 percent is historic on the European level and confirms the extent to which politics dominates life in Catalonia. The second important aspect is that the Catalonians have rejected the most radical voices: Rajoy's conservative People's Party (PP) was punished to the point of becoming irrelevant. ... And the extremists of the left-wing populist CUP party suffered an unexpected defeat. ... The victory of the liberal Ciudadanos party owes much to the wisdom of Inés Arrimada and her ability to appeal to those who don't want independence but who don't identify with the intolerance of Madrid/Rajoy either.”
Time to talk to each other
Catalonia has not yielded to Madrid, La Repubblica writes and urges the two sides to show willingness for dialogue:
“The election shows that in Europe you can't govern with court procedures, handcuffs, truncheons and decrees, as Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy tried to do. ... The ballot boxes have defended the sacred principle of the right to self-determination. Turning this principle into a political programme, however, would be a fatal mistake. ... The European states didn't give Rajoy their unconditional support. Brussels urged the Spanish prime minister to hold new elections as quickly as possible after suspending Catalonia's autonomy. Now the time has come to resume the dialogue that should never have been interrupted.”
Slap in the face for Rajoy-style conservatism
El Mundo sees the liberal party Ciudadanos as the future of the Spanish conservatives:
“The pitiful failure of the People's Party deserves to be mentioned. Despite being the party that triggered Article 155 [suspending Catalonia's autonomy rights] it failed to capitalise on this. ... Ciudadanos emerges from this election so much stronger that it could challenge the PP's power in the rest of Spain too. Without much experience but with plenty of courage and an uncompromising stance vis-à-vis the separatists, Albert Rivera's party is shaping up to be the future of the centre-right in Spain.”