Horse-trading over Catalan government gets underway

Leader Artur Mas set to begin series of meetings with rival parties

After the center-right nationalist CiU group won last Sunday's elections for the Catalan parliament but fell short of an absolute majority, its leader Artur Mas is set today to kick off a series of meetings with rival parties to secure the backing he needs to govern.

Mas plans to meet the leaders of the opposition in the order of the number of seats they won in Sunday's poll. The CiU garnered 62 seats in the 135-strong house and needs the support of six other members to guarantee Mas' investiture. The Catalan Socialists came second in the poll with 28 seats, but its leader, and outgoing premier, José Montilla, has announced he is giving up his seat, and ultimately the party leadership.

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One of the pillars of Mas' campaign was the CiU's demand for a special economic agreement with the central government. However, the conservative Popular Party, which came third in the race with 18 seats, is opposed to that idea, even though the two parties share a similar outlook on how to tackle the economic crisis.

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