REGIONAL POLITICS

Mas warns of campaign to derail Catalan secessionist drive

“They want to destabilize me,” claims regional premier

Catalan premier Artur Mas attends an event for civic leaders in Barcelona on Sunday.
Catalan premier Artur Mas attends an event for civic leaders in Barcelona on Sunday.ALBERTO ESTÉVEZ (EFE)

Catalonia regional premier Artur Mas warned on Sunday that there were people both inside and outside Spain who want to derail the independence process that his government is attempting to organize through a referendum, planned for next year.

“They are coming for me,” Mas told a group of civic leaders in Barcelona. “They want to destabilize the process and they want to destabilize me.”

He called on voters, who will be going to the polls later this month, to show Madrid and Brussels that they back a strong leader who is ready to take Catalans through the independence process.

Mas’ plea comes a day after around 100 writers, lawyers, politicians and intellectuals released a manifesto in support of keeping Catalonia in Spain, while rejecting the secessionist drive by the ruling Catalan nationalist CiU bloc. Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, leader of Unió Democràtica — part of the CiU coalition — on Sunday called the manifesto “a simple missive against the CiU.”

Until now, all polls have shown that Mas and the CiU will not win an absolute majority in the November 25 race. The same polls say that the nationalists may get a few additional seats in the 135-member regional parliament from the current 62 they hold now, but will fall short of the 68 needed for an absolute majority. Still, Mas is aware that he can push for his secessionist platform with the help of the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) and the pro-nationalist grouping Iniciativa. “I will carry on this process to the end, as long as I have the support of the people,” he said.

Meanwhile, the warning signs coming from Brussels continue. The European Commission, along with a group of independent jurists, have reiterated that Catalonia cannot remain in the European Union should it decide to split from Spain. Secession would mean a long and complicated process for it to be readmitted into the EU, they say.

In effect, Catalonia could continue to use the euro but, as with Kosovo and Montenegro and the small states of San Marino, Monaco, Andorra and the Vatican, which also use the currency, the region would not be permitted to have a member on any EU policy-making bodies.

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