Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Wednesday, 26 november 2014 | BLOOMBERG


Catalonia’s Mas urges single pro-secession list for election

By Esteban Duarte


Catalan President Artur Mas said a possible regional election should serve as a de-facto referendum on independence and set out an 18-month timetable for splitting from Spain.

Pro-secession parties should field a single list of candidates to increase the chance of winning an outright majority, Mas said in a speech in Barcelona last night. If there are multiple lists of candidates who favor breaking away from Spain, the result will only serve as an endorsement of independence if one list wins a majority on its own, Mas said.

Mas is detailing his secession plan with his political stock on the rise after he defied a Constitutional Court injunction to hold an unofficial vote on independence Nov. 9. The Catalan National Assembly, the civil-society group that led hundreds of thousands of protesters onto the streets of Barcelona in September, is pushing him to capitalize on separatist momentum by using an election as a de-facto independence vote.

After a regional election, “there can’t be a discussion about what the vote was about,” Mas told an audience of thousands, including his separatist rival, Oriol Junqueras. “There can’t be excuses to confuse the result’s interpretation, neither at home nor in the rest of the world.”

Mas didn’t say when he plans to call regional elections. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy plans to visit Catalonia Nov. 28 and 29 in a bid to better explain his arguments keep Spanish territorial integrity, he said last week.

Mas “has become president of only part of the Catalans,” Rajoy told reporters in Madrid today. “It’s really worrying the lack of government that Catalonia is suffering.”

‘Acting Disloyally’

“People who are pro-independence are acting disloyally toward Spain,” the leader of Rajoy’s People’s Party in Catalonia, Alicia Sanchez-Camacho, said in an interview with Antena 3 television. “We have to have a bigger and better presence of the state in Catalonia.”

Catalonia is home to 7.4 million people in the northeast corner of the Iberian peninsula. It has an annual output of 193 billion euros ($241 billion). That’s about the same as Finland or Scotland, where in September voters opted to remain part of the U.K. in an independence referendum that was allowed by British Prime Minister David Cameron.

“It’s not normal that a country’s population can’t express its opinion about the future of its own country,” said Mas, who is facing a possible criminal investigation for holding the independence vote on Nov. 9. “We are not under normal conditions.”

Transitional Government

The pro-secession list should include experts in the fields needed for the creation of the Catalan state, said Mas. It should also have members of political parties and representatives of civil society.

If that alliance wins a majority, it will name a government that will tell Spain, the European Union and the international community it plans to create a new, independent state, Mas said. The transitional government would set up the institutional framework necessary for a Catalan state over no more than 18 months, Mas said.

The administration would then call elections and a simultaneous referendum on independence of a new Catalan state as the final step to breaking away from Spain, said Mas. If he’s picked to lead the pro-secession list, he won’t run again after the transition period ends, Mas said.

“Mas’s plan reduces the chances of a compromise solution between the Catalan government and the central government any time soon,” Victor Echevarria, a London-based analyst at BNP Paribas SA, said in an note to investors. “Political uncertainty is already high.”

Opinion Polls

Support for the Catalan leader is increasing after more than 2.3 million people, about 37 percent of potential voters, took part in the illegal ballot on Nov. 9. Eighty-one percent backed independence.

In two opinion polls published since that vote, Mas erased the lead Junqueras has established over the past year by taking a more aggressive stance on secession.

Mas’s CiU, or Convergence and Union, was projected to win about 33 seats in the 135-seat chamber, compared with 32 for Junqueras’s Esquerra Republicana, or Republican Left, according to the survey conducted for El Periodico de Catalunya by GESOP and released Nov. 21. Five months ago, Esquerra had a lead of 10 seats, the newspaper said.

“I am asking political parties to take a step aside and civil society to take a step forward,” said Mas, who said is willing to lead or run in the last position in the pro-secession list. “Someone who asks generosity of a lot of people should also be prepared to practice it themselves.”

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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Col·lectiu Emma is a network of Catalans and non-Catalans living in different countries who have made it their job to track and review news reports about Catalonia in the international media. Our goal is to ensure that the world's public opinion gets a fair picture of the country's reality today and in history.

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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia