THE CATALAN QUESTION

PP throws cold water on Catalan branch leader’s new revenue plan

Party number two De Cospedal stresses that changes to the financing law should be hammered out by all regional barons

PP secretary general María Dolores de Cospedal at Monday's news conference.
PP secretary general María Dolores de Cospedal at Monday's news conference.Claudio Alvarez (EL PAÍS)

The Popular Party (PP) national committee on Monday rejected a proposal for a new financing plan for Catalonia that was presented by Alicia Sánchez-Camacho, the ruling party’s leader in the region.

There had been much speculation over Sánchez-Camacho’s plan, which called for, among other things, greater revenue for Catalonia based on the amount of taxes residents and industry pay as a way to head off the independence drive by regional premier Artur Mas and his supporters. She also suggested in her proposal that Madrid agree to review whether Catalonia can assume control over some facilities that are now run by the central government, such as airports.

But PP secretary general María Dolores de Cospedal threw a bucket of cold water on this option just minutes after Sánchez-Camacho had taken her seat for the first time the weekly strategy meeting of top party officials.

Stopping short of publicly overruling Sánchez-Camacho, De Cospedal explained that changes to certain components of the regional financing law “were still under review” and that the party receives “well-intended suggestions every day.” She reiterated that the levels of solidarity and cooperation that exist among Spain’s 17 regions cannot be overlooked.

“There will be suggestions and opinions from all regional representatives; this is something we must count on when it comes to changing the financial model,” De Cospedal said.

According to sources, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is under intense pressure from businessmen and politicians to find a solution to stop the independence drive and resolve the political crisis between Madrid and Barcelona.

Rajoy has tried to temper concerns made on Monday by the PP regional leaders – the so-called party barons – who were showing signs of rebellion over the possibility that Sánchez-Camacho’s proposal could be accepted. They also came out against a suggestion made by Madrid regional premier Ignacio González, also of the PP, who said that any changes to Catalonia’s financing should be put to a referendum.

Rajoy has stated publicly that the only solution to the crisis would be a “goodwill gesture” by Mas to cancel his plans to hold a status referendum next year. The government has said that this vote would be unlawful.

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