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24th Feb 2024

Catalans to renew independence bid with early election

  • Dwindling support for prime minster Mariano Rajoy and his conservative government (Photo: PP)

Catalan president Artur Mas on Wednesday (14 January) announced a regional election in September as part of a larger effort to renew an independence bid from Spain.

Madrid has staunchly opposed the secessionist drive with Spain’s constitutional court having banned any formal referendum.

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  • Artur Mas announced regional elections in September (Photo: iSabadell)

The northeastern region held a non-binding poll in November, sparking legal action against the Catalan leader from Spain’s top prosecutors.

But Mas is set to challenge the central government again after calling for an election on 27 September during a news conference on Wednesday.

A majority win for the separatist lawmakers in the 135-regional parliament chamber could lead to calls for a unilateral declaration of independence from Spain.

The intended election date was 2016 but has been moved to September, a few weeks ahead of Spain’s general elections, amid nation-wide dwindling support for prime minster Mariano Rajoy and his conservative government.

Many in Catalonia accuse Rajoy of distributing the region’s tax wealth to others in Spain without receiving any benefits in return from the central government.

Rajoy says Catalonia’s bid for independence is illegal.

Mas gave an 18-month timeline for a succession bid following the September election.

The move follows weeks of negotiations with the regional political parties over candidate lists.

"The climate of consensus had been growing weaker but today, happily that has changed,” said Mas.

He says the parliament election will be a show of support for the parties that want to break away from Madrid.

The original plan was to have the pro-independence groups run on a single ticket under Mas’ stewardship.

However, Mas was unable to muster up enough support to back the plan.

Instead, the two biggest separatist parities, Mas’s Convergencia (Convergence) and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (The Republican Left of Catalonia), will instead run on separate tickets in a so-called “shared road map”.

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