Catalan separatists would lose votes in December election: polls

Barcelona (AFP) –


Catalonia's separatist ERC party, whose leader is in custody, would win December regional elections but the independence coalition as a whole could lose its absolute majority in parliament, according to opinion polls published Sunday.

PDeCAT, the party of deposed Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who is currently in Belgium and refused to appear before a judge in Madrid last week, would only come fourth, the two surveys suggest.

According to one poll published in Catalan daily La Vanguardia, independence parties ERC, PDeCAT and the far-left CUP would only win 46 percent of votes, 1.8 percent down on the last election in September 2015.

The poll -- which was carried out from October 30 to November 3 -- also suggested pro-unity parties would win more votes than in 2015.

It said the conservative Popular Party of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, the centrist Ciudadanos and Catalonia's Socialist party would together win 44 percent, or five percent more.

Most of the remaining 10 percent, it said, would go to Catalunya en Comu, a party that is anti-independence but supports holding a legal referendum.

Catalonia is currently under direct rule from Madrid after its majority separatist parliament last month declared independence, and Rajoy called a December 21 election in a bid to "restore normality" to the region.

And on Thursday, a Spanish court detained ERC leader Oriol Junqueras and other deposed regional ministers over their role in Catalonia's independence drive.

The poll in La Vanguardia found that the three independence parties would get 66 to 69 lawmakers in the 135-seat regional parliament, where an absolute majority is 68.

The clear winner would be ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia), followed by Ciudadanos, which was founded in Catalonia as an anti-independence party, and the Socialist party.

Puigdemont's conservative PDeCAT would come fourth, with 14 to 15 seats.

In another poll published by the conservative La Razon daily, the three separatist parties would only secure 65 lawmakers, seven less than in the 2015 election.

It also said the number of pro-independence voters would drop from 1.9 million in 2015 to 1.7 million out of a total electorate of over five million people.