Catalan leader loses ground to nationalist left: exit poll

Catalan leader loses ground to nationalist left: exit poll

BARCELONA, Spain: Catalan voters sliced regional leader Artur Mas’s majority in snap elections Sunday with strong gains for left-wing parties that favour independence from Spain, exit polls said.

Centre-right leader Mas had promised to hold a referendum on self-determination within four years if the vote for the 135-seat parliament gave him a mandate — a move which the leftist parties would also support.

Mas’s nationalist alliance won between 54 and 57 seats, down from 62 currently, as leftist party ERC more than doubled its share with between 20 and 23, said the polls broadcast by Catalan television channel TV3.

Another leftist party that supports independence also won ground in the parliament of the northeastern region: CUP, with five seats.

The result weakened the presence of Mas’s CiU alliance in the parliament, but the strong showing of the pro-independence parties could lend weight to calls for a referendum.

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