Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Thursday, 15 january 2015 | FINANCIAL TIMES

English

Catalans raise stakes on secession with early polls

By TOBYAS BUCK
 
Catalonia will hold an early election on September 27 in a bid to inject fresh momentum into the region’s campaign for independence and rally popular support for a historic break with Spain




FINANCIAL TIMES
14-01-2015
 
 
By TOBYAS BUCK
 
Catalonia will hold an early election on September 27 in a bid to inject fresh momentum into the region’s campaign for independence and rally popular support for a historic break with Spain.
 
The move was announced by Artur Mas, the Catalan president, after weeks of tense negotiations with leaders from other pro-independence parties and grass-roots activists. One of Spain’s most populous and wealthy regions, Catalonia has seen a sharp rise in support for independence in recent years, putting the political leadership in Barcelona on a collision course with Madrid.
 
Catalan leaders hope the September election will function as a quasi-referendum on independence — with every vote for a pro-independence party counting as a vote for the creation of a new Catalan state.
 
To magnify this effect, Mr Mas had called on all pro-independence parties to run on a joint list. His plan, however, was ultimately rebuffed. Speaking in Barcelona on Wednesday, Mr Mas said his own conservative CDC party and the leftist Esquerra Republicana movement (ERC), the two main independence parties, would now run separately but with “a shared road map”.
 
The failure to reach agreement on a joint list is a blow to the Catalan president, but Mr Mas said he was concerned above all with maintaining the unity of the pro-independence camp. “I am sure in Madrid they were expecting disagreement. But now we have an agreement,” he said.
 
Mr Mas added: “The political process in Catalonia goes on and goes ahead.”
 
The September vote will take place just weeks ahead of Spain’s general election, and is likely to heighten concerns over the political stability of the eurozone´s fourth-largest economy.
 
Spain’s political establishment now faces an unprecedented political challenge on two fronts: in Catalonia, the ruling conservative Popular party and the centre-left Socialists risk being sidelined by the pro-independence movement and by more hardline unionist forces such as Ciutadans. At the same time, they are under fierce pressure across the country from Podemos, the upstart anti-establishment party founded only one year ago.
 
Polls suggest Podemos is on course to become the biggest party in Spain this year, an outcome that would make the creation of a stable government in Madrid more difficult than ever before. Spain has little experience of coalition governments, and the political gulf between the PP, the Socialists and Podemos is seen by many analysts as almost unbridgeable.
 
Mr Mas had asked the central government repeatedly to allow Catalans to decide their political future in a formal referendum. But Madrid has long been fiercely opposed to Catalan independence, arguing that Spain´s constitution leaves no room for such a plebiscite, let alone for the formation of a breakaway state.
 


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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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