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Spain’s Socialist Party of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez won the most votes in Sunday’s regional elections in Catalonia, a victory that dealt a blow to the separatist and pro-independence parties that previously dominated the territory, the BBC reported.

Results showed that the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) won 42 out of 135 seats in the legislature, while the separatist Together for Catalonia (JxCat) party of former regional President Carles Puigdemont came in second with 35 seats.

The outcome showed that other pro-independence parties lost ground in Sunday’s vote, including the 68-seat majority they would collectively need in the regional parliament, according to the Associated Press.

The vote came after the minority government of the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) called for an early poll after failing to gain support to pass the region’s annual budget.

Observers said that the issue of Catalonia’s relationship with the rest of Spain was overshadowed by other challenges facing the region, including a drought and a housing crisis.

They added that a victory for the PSC underscores a loss of support for the independence movement in Catalonia: The regional government’s statistics showed public support has dropped seven points to 42 percent over the past seven years.

It also highlights the success of Sánchez’s policies in the region, including a contentious amnesty law that would benefit nationalists who face legal action for separatist activity. Among them is Puigdemont, who has been living in exile following a failed breakaway bid in 2017.

PSC leader Salvador Illa hailed the party’s victory as “a new era for Catalonia,” but observers noted that it will not be easy for the winner to form a government.

The PSC will need the support of the ERC and a far-left party, even though Puigdemont called on the ERC not to form a coalition with Illa.

Meanwhile, it’s unclear when coalition talks will conclude because of the fragmented nature of the legislature, which is split by unionist-separatist allegiances as well as by left-right divisions.

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