Catalan leader to call new elections unless he gets support

Catalonian separatist leader Artur Mas says he is ready to call for new elections unless he gets support in coming days

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Catalan acting President Artur Mas attends a government meeting at Palau de la Generalitat in Barcelona, Spain, January 5, 2016

Catalonia's pro-independence leader Artur Mas said on Tuesday that he is reluctantly ready to call fresh parliamentary elections.

"I'm ready - against my will, this is not what we wanted and it is not what I want - but I'm ready to sign the decree to convene elections," he said in a news conference in Barcelona.

He said that if the region’s deputies will not agree to support him until Sunday, he will call for new elections on Monday.

The pro-independence “Junts pel Si" (Together for Yes) alliance -consisting of Mas’ centre-right Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC) party and far-left Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) party- won the majority of seats in regional government in September elections.

However, CUP repeatedly refused to support Mas due to his austerity policies and corruption allegations surrounding his party in recent years.

"I don't know if they [CUP] realise the magnitude of the mistake they are making," Mas told reporters.

Fresh polls would be a setback in the drive for independence, he warned earlier.

Mas said "there will be no more offers," ruling out stepping down as a candidate.

The only option that remains is to convince a few CUP lawmakers to break rank and support them.

"It's a risk because right now there are 72 separatist lawmakers," said Ferran Requejo, politics professor at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona.

"It could be that the result will be worse, because voters have seen that three months of secessionist majority in parliament has not resulted in a government agreement.”

"That has resulted in the separatist factions running out of steam."

If renewed, it will be the fourth election in five years in the wealthy, 7.5-million-strong northeastern region.

Polls show that most Catalans support a referendum on independence, but are roughly evenly divided over breaking from Spain.

Yet, the Spanish government has ruled out the possibility of a split.

TRTWorld and agencies