Separatists celebrate their election victory after taking a clear majority of seats in Catalonia's parliament. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Separatists have won a clear majority of seats in Catalonia's parliament, preliminary official results showed on Sunday (September 27), in an election that set the region on a collision course with Spain's central government over independence. Acting Catalan regional government head Artur Mas lead the celebrations in Barcelona, with secessionist parties on track to secure 72 out of 135 seats in the powerful region of 7.5 million people that includes Barcelona. The strong pro-independence showing dealt a blow to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, three months before a national election. His center-right government, which has opposed attempts to hold a referendum on secession, has called the separatist plan "a nonsense" and vowed to block it in court. Spain's constitution does not allow any region to break away, so the prospect of a breakaway remains highly hypothetical. The main secessionist group "Junts pel Si" (Together for Yes) was on track to secure 62 seats, while the smaller leftist CUP party would get another 10, according to official results with 97 percent of the votes counted. They would jointly obtain 47.8 percent of the vote, on a record turnout of 78 percent -- a big boost to an independence campaign which has been losing support over the last two years. Both had said before the vote that such a result would allow them to unilaterally declare independence within 18 months, under a plan that would see the new Catalan authorities approving their own constitution and building institutions like an army, central bank and judicial system. The vote in Catalonia, Spain's second most populous region, is widely expected to influence the course of the Spanish general election in December. Spain's two dominant parties - the ruling People's Party and the opposition Socialists - lost tens of thousands of votes compared with the last vote in 2012, boding ill for their national ambitions, although the PP suffered a much deeper setback than its rival. Opinion polls show a majority of Catalans would like to remain within Spain if the region was offered a more favorable tax regime and laws that better protect language and culture.