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What does Spain's election result mean for Catalonia's independence movement?

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What does Spain's election result mean for Catalonia's independence movement?
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GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP
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Spain's acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez won a parliamentary majority to form a left-wing coalition government on Tuesday with 167 votes in favour to 165 against, ending almost a year of political gridlock.

Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias, who leads the far-left Unidas Podemos, or United We Can Party, will be forming the first coalition government in Spain’s recent history.

The very tight vote was won largely to 18 abstentions, including that of the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) — Catalonia’s largest separatist party — which promised to abstain in exchange for talks over the future of the region.

What does the new Spanish government mean for Catalonia's independence movement? Euronews takes a look.

Fate of jailed Catalan leaders 'won't change'

The fate of Catalan leaders jailed for the 2017 failed secession attempt is unlikely to change, said Gonzalo Boyé, the lawyer for Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont.

The elected member of European parliament took asylum in Belgium when members of his cabinet were arrested in Spain.

"We all want that to happen, but it will definitely not happen. The government does not have the capacity to do that," Boyé told Euronews.

Talks might lead to an impasse

Catalan separatists of the ERC have overwhelmingly supported the coalition government in Spain on the condition of dialogue over the issue of Catalonia's independence.

But the talks promise to be complicated as most Spaniards oppose secession.

The conflict on the political status of Catalonia will endure, Kristian Herbolzheim, the director of the Institut Català Internacional per la Pau, told Euronews.

"There is no short-term solution in sight", he said.

Despite the agreement between the Socialists and the ERC being "a necessary step that acknowledges the political nature of the conflict, the legitimacy of the different claims and the need to address it through dialogue", the negotiations ahead will face tremendous challenges, Herbolzheim explained.

The ERC will want a referendum on Catalonian independence, which is unacceptable for the Socialists.

"Political and media pressure" around the talks could hinder efforts to find creative alternatives, and the right-wing opposition will block any legislative proposal.

"The talks will happen", he said, but it's unclear how long they will last and whether they will produce any results.

"Progress will require a change of positions and attitudes by the main political players, and by public opinion. And this, in turn, requires time."

Very thin majority

It's time the new government might not have.

It is "very unlikely" that the newly formed Spanish coalition government will last out its term, Cristóbal Herrera, head of public affairs at the Llorente y Cuenca consulting group, told the Associated Press.

With such a thin majority, "they will have permanent opposition in the background", Herrera said.

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