News World Spain could lose a sixth of its population

Spain could lose a sixth of its population

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Separatists pushing to make Catalonia independent from Spain have claimed victory in a regional election, an exit poll shows.

With 80 per cent of votes counted, the tally indicated the pro-independence alliance will hold an absolute majority in the regional parliament – if it teamed up with the radical left-wing group CUP.

“We have won,” Nationalist regional president Artur Mas said on Monday (AEST).

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Jubilant crowds cheered at a rally in Barcelona by “Together For Yes”, the main pro-independence alliance, yelling “Independence!”

Catalonia president Artur Mas celebrates.
Catalonia president Artur Mas celebrates. Photo: Getty

Earlier on Monday, the head of the group’s campaign Francesc Homs said the exit poll pointed to a clear victory for the separatist movement.

“The available data give the impression that this pro-sovereignty majority, clearly in favour of independence, is a fact,” he told the crowd.

They waved nationalist flags of red and yellow stripes overlaid with a white star on a blue triangle.

The drive to break the rich northeastern region away from Spain and create a new state in Europe has prompted a fierce standoff with the Spanish government.

Mr Mas’s separatist alliance vowed to declare independence by 2017 if it secured an absolute majority in the parliament.

Officials said turnout was 63 per cent by 6pm local time, two hours before polls closed – nearly seven per cent higher than in the last regional election in 2012.

Catalonia’s capital city is Barcelona, the second-largest city in Spain.

The region has four other provinces: Girona, Lleida and Tarragona.

—with AAP

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