Catalonia to call poll as proxy in­de­pen­dence vote


Catalonia was poised on Mon­day to call an early re­gional elec­tion that will serve as a proxy vote on in­de­pen­dence from Spain, rais­ing ten­sions with the cen­tral gov­ern­ment in Madrid.

Cata­lan pres­i­dent Ar­tur Mas will sign a de­cree set­ting Sept. 27 as the date for the vote in the wealthy north­east­ern re­gion, which is home to 7.5 mil­lion peo­ple and ac­counts for one fifth of Spain’s out­put.

Mas has said that if an al­liance of pro-se­ces­sion par­ties wins a ma­jor­ity, they will aim to split from Spain within 18 months de­spite Madrid’s op­po­si­tion.

The re­gional gov­ern­ment has al­ready started set­ting up in­sti­tu­tions of state, which would swing into gear if the pro-in­de­pen­dence camp wins.

“We are ready,” Mas re­peat­edly says dur­ing public ap­pear­ances.

Last week, Cata­lan of­fi­cials pre­sented plans for a fu­ture Cata­lan tax agency and adopted a de­cree paving the way for a public credit in­sti­tu­tion to be turned into a Cata­lan cen­tral bank.

‘To­gether for yes’

The is­sue of Cata­lan in­de­pen- dence has been thrust onto the back burner in re­cent months, with Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy’s gov­ern­ment more fo­cused on the chal­lenge in a year-end gen­eral elec­tion from new anti-aus­ter­ity party Pode­mos than from Cata­lan sep­a­ratists.

But it bounced back into the po­lit­i­cal spotlight in July af­ter pro-in­de­pen­dence par­ties set aside their dif­fer­ences and agreed to run on a joint ticket in the re­gional polls.

The joint list, called “To­gether for ‘Yes,’” in­cludes Mas’s con­ser­va­tive na­tion­al­ist CDC party, the left-wing sep­a­ratist ERC and mem­bers of in­flu­en­tial as­so­cia- tions which have in re­cent years or­ga­nized mas­sive pro-in­de­pen­dence demon­stra­tions in the re­gion.

A smaller far-left party sup­port­ing in­de­pen­dence, CUP, has re­fused to join the al­liance but could prove key to achiev­ing the ma­jor­ity in the re­gional assem­bly which the pro-in­de­pen­dence camp says would be suf­fi­cient to im­ple­ment its se­ces­sion plans.

Spain’s cen­tral gov­ern­ment has vowed to op­pose Catalonia’s moves.

“There will be no in­de­pen­dence for Catalonia,” Ra­joy told a news con­fer­ence on Fri­day.

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