The National:

THE Catalan elections have produced a shake-up of political representation in the insurgent nation but not yet a clear solution to the constitutional impasse it faces.

The combined pro-independence parties won 51.16 per cent of the total vote (a record) and a majority of seats in the Catalan parliament. This represents a blow against Madrid’s utter refusal to open any dialogue on Catalan self-determination since the unilateral referendum of 2017.

However, the pro-independence parties remain divided over how to proceed (shades of Scotland).

During the election campaign, Laura Borras, presidential candidate for JxCat (whose leader Carles Puigdemont remains in exile in Belgium), argued that if the pro-indy parties won more than 50 per cent of the vote it would give them a mandate to "reactivate" the unilateral declaration of independence made in 2017.

READ MORE: Pro-independence parties ready to retain control of Catalonia's government

Quite what “reactivate” means remains obscure, but such rhetoric garnered JxCat 20 per cent of the popular vote and 32 seats in the 135-seat Catalan Parliament on Sunday.

This was not enough to overtake the ERC, which goes back to the Civil War and is the traditional standard-bearer of Catalan independence. The ERC currently prefers dialogue with the ruling Socialist Party, which is in minority power in Madrid and therefore dependent on the Catalan parties for parliamentary support. On Sunday, the ERC edged ahead of JxCat with 33 seats from 21 per cent of the vote.

To form a government, the ERC and JxCat will have to do a deal, which would also need to include at least the passive acceptance of the far left, pro-indy CUP, which surged to 9 seats. This gives the pro-independence parties 74 seats overall, 4 more than at the 2017 election.

The National: Pedro Sanchez's ruling Socialist Party is in minority power in MadridPedro Sanchez's ruling Socialist Party is in minority power in Madrid

The other big change in the new Catalan Parliament is that the anti-independence Socialists have edged into first place in the election, with 23 per cent of the votes and 33 seats. This is something of political comeback for the Socialists who were once the dominant force in Barcelona and its surrounding industrial belt, in the early post-Franco years. However, corruption and a drift towards neoliberalism saw them eclipsed as a political force across all of Spain, not just Catalonia.

Sunday’s Socialist revival results from a crisis in the other Spanish unionist parties. The real casualty of the Catalan elections is Ciudadanos, a sort of centre-right Blairite party of the Spanish middle class.

It went from being the largest pro-unionist party in the Catalan Parliament with 36 seats, down to just 6. Essentially, this indicates a collapse of the anti-independence centre, which went either to the Socialists or to the far-right Vox party, which enters the Catalan parliament for the first time.

READ MORE: 'This is not freedom': Catalan pro-independence leaders leave jail

What next? One glaring fact of Sunday’s vote was the dramatic fall in turnout, to a record low of 53 per cent. The pandemic might have been responsible – which has big implications for the Scottish Parliament elections in May.

However, it also suggests rising political apathy born of no clear path forward to independence in Catalonia – again something for the Scots indy movement to consider.

Both the Socialists and ERC are expected to contest the post of Catalan president (speaker). A split in the nationalist camp theoretically could see the Socialists take control. Equally, some Catalan nationalists might trade support for the Socialists for a change in the Spanish constitution, to recognise the right to Catalan (and Basque) self-determination. Call this election round one of a multi-leg contest.

And the overall impact on Scotland? The Catalan results will be a boost to the morale of the independence cause in Scotland. Catalonia proves you can win an indy majority and still navigate differences in the movement.