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Pro-Unity Ciudadanos wins Catalan election but secessionists maintain majority
Last Updated: 2017-12-22 11:10 | Xinhua
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Citizens of Barcelona vote in a polling station in Barcelona, Spain, December 21, 2017. (Xinhua/Guo Qiuda)

The pro-unity Catalan party Ciudadanos (Cs) won the most votes with 25 percent in the snap regional election on Thursday, with 99.5 percent of votes counted.

But the pro-independence bloc consisting of three parties -- JuntsxCat, ERC and CUP -- kept its absolute majority in the 135-seat regional parliament.

Ciudadanos, led by Ines Arrimadas, gained 37 seats with 25.36 percent of the votes.

Arrimadas delivered a speech at Espanya Square after her party became the first political force in Catalonia's regional election.

"For the first time a constitutional force wins the elections in Catalonia, and it is Ciudadanos," she said, adding that one in four Catalans trusted the political party.

Arrimadas said the results sent a message to the world that the majority of Catalan people were in favor of remaining in Spain and separatists can not talk on behalf of all Catalans.

In the pro-unity bloc, the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) won 17 seats, having slightly outweighed their performance in 2015, but the center-right People's Party (PP), under the leadership of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, suffered a serious setback and got only 3 seats.

In the pro-secession bloc, former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont's JuntsxCat, or Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia), secured 34 seats with 21.68 percent of the votes.

Left-wing pro-secession ERC came third with 32 seats and the anti-capitalist CUP won four seats.

The three pro-independence forces together make up 70 seats, two above a majority but two less than in the previous 2015 election.

A record 82 percent of Catalonia's 5.5 million eligible voters cast their ballots, well above the 74.9-percent turnout in the last election held in September 2015.

The snap election was called by Rajoy, after he sacked the Catalan regional government and dissolved the regional parliament in late October, following an independence declaration by separatist regional politicians.

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