20th Mar 2018

Catalan separatists locked in leadership battle

Three months after pro-independence parties in the Spanish region Catalonia obtained a majority of seats in the regional parliament, they are still in deadlock over who should head the regional government.

Outgoing centre-right regional president Artur Mas wants to continue his rule, but he needs the support from the far-left Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) party.

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  • Artur Mas: should he stay or go? (Photo: iSabadell)

On Sunday (27 December) CUP members produced an unlikely impasse, as 1,515 voted in favour of Mas, and the exact amount of members voted against him.

After failing to achieve a majority in the grass-roots vote, the CUP's party leadership will hold a meeting on Saturday.

If no decision is reached by 9 January, there will automatically be new elections, which could redraw the political map of the relatively rich northeastern region of 7.5 million people, and put into question the road to independence which the current parliament has decided to embark on.

While Mas' Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC) and the CUP agree on taking steps towards breaking away from Spain, they are far removed from each other on other issues.

CUP wants an independent Catalonia to leave the EU and Nato, and has criticized Mas' austerity policies. It won 10 seats in the September elections, out of 135.

The pro-independence parties did adopt a resolution in parliament last November, in which parliament “solemnly declares the beginning of the process of creating an independent Catalan state as a republic,” by 2017.

The resolution has been rejected earlier this month by the Spanish constitutional court, which declared it unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, another political party has entered the scene. Left-wing anti-austerity party Podemos did well in national elections, and came out as the largest party in the Catalan region.

While Podemos wants to hold a referendum on independence, it has said it would be in favour of staying part of Spain.

Meanwhile in Madrid, coalition talks have not yet yielded any results after last week's election produced a fragmented national parliament, with no clear majority in sight.


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