Politics

Independence referendum

CiU suggests asking Catalans about the future of Catalonia

09/25/2012

A proposal will be discussed with the rest of the parties in the Catalonia parliament when the regional parliament holds its annual debate on the state of Catalonia.

  • Convergence and Union (CiU) leader Artur Mas. Photo: EFE

    Convergence and Union (CiU) leader Artur Mas. Photo: EFE

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Artur Mas' conservative Convergence and Union (CiU) party will suggest "asking the Catalans" about their sovereignty in a proposal that holds that "Catalonia's current integration in Spain is nowadays deadlocked".

The proposal, that will be discussed with the rest of the parties in the Catalonia parliament when the regional parliament holds its annual debate on the state of Catalonia, suggests that the Catalans can decide their future freely and in a democratic way.

It also recognizes the success of a rally last September 11th under the slogan 'Catalonia, new European state', where hundreds of thousands of Catalans took to the streets of Barcelona in an unprecedented show of mass support for autonomy from Madrid, blaming Spain's economic crisis for dragging their wealthy region down.

This proposal follows the denial of the Spanish Government to negotiate a greater tax autonomy for the autonomous community of Catalonia. After the Mas-Rajoy meeting, the leader of Catalonia's regional government hinted at holding early elections.

Artur Mas's conservative Convergence and Union (CiU) party would likely win an absolute majority in elections, strengthening his mandate to press on towards independence and delivering a blow to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy who has called for national unity to counter the debt crisis.

Independence call

Spain's deep economic crisis has fanned an independence movement in Catalonia, which has its own language and produces a fifth of Spain's economic output.

An early election would be a fresh problem for Rajoy, who is dealing with a recession, high unemployment, high borrowing costs and a looming international rescue package with tough conditions.

The Catalans lay claim to some 16 billion euros they say they raise in taxes every year but go to other regions and the central government. Spain's 17 regions are largely self-governing, but under a complex tax system they turn over most taxes they collect to the central government which then shares them back out to the regional governments. Mas has enacted harsh spending cuts in Catalonia to bring down the region's large budget deficit.

He has managed to deflect anger over the cuts by blaming the central government for not instituting a fairer tax system. More than half of Catalans say they want a separate state.

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