Nationalists triumph in Catalan elections

But lack of clear mandate for leading party casts doubt on prospects for independence referendum.

Catalonia’s nationalists were the clear winners in yesterday’s crucial regional elections – but a significant drop in support for Artur Mas’s conservative nationalists the CiU raises serious doubts over their central campaign issue of a referendum on Catalan independence.

Boosted by a major increase in backing for a breakaway state in polls since Spain’s recession began in 2008, and Catalonia’s biggest ever pro-independence rally on 11 September, the CiU (Convergence and Union) had adopted a far harder nationalist line in recent months.

But although the CiU remains by far the biggest political grouping in the Catalan parliament with around 50 seats, and will almost certainly form a minority government – with Mr Mas thereby gaining a second term as Catalonia’s president – any chances of a referendum will now involve negotiations between CiU and the left-wing nationalist republican party, ERC, which has more than doubled its representation.

Read @ The Independent