In Catalonia, Spain, the Republican Left (ERC) are the big winners from Sunday’s regional election.
The party jumped from 11 to 21 seats in the 135-seat local parliament.
The region has seen increasing calls for independence from Spain since the financial crisis hit and ERC leader, Oriol Junqueras, says this result is a further validation:
“The people of Catalonia have expressed their will, and they have voted for the independence process.”
The election had been called by Catalan President, Artur Mas who was testing support for a new drive for independence.
His Party, the Convergence and Union Alliance (CiU) actually lost ground, falling from 62 to 50 seats, but remains by far the largest party in the regional parliament.
Following the count Artur Mas said:
“Those who enjoy this result because they think it means the process Catalonia has started has been aborted should be careful and they should do their maths.”
The election was an overall success for parties in favour of independence.
Catalan voters in the wealthy, but financially troubled region gave an almost two thirds majority to four separatist parties.
The separatist sentiments have been amplified as Catalans are increasingly frustrated with a tax system they feel is unfair.
But as Mas’s party lost ground he will find it difficult to lead a united drive to hold a referendum on secession from Spain, in defiance of the constitution and the central government in Madrid.
Something that will come as a relief to Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, who is trying to cut high borrowing costs by convincing investors of Spain’s economic and political stability.