REGIONAL POLITICS

Catalan separatists embark on drive to keep referendum plans alive

Sixty percent of Catalonia residents believe region will become an EU member, new poll shows

A demonstration in favor of Catalan independence in Barcelona on September 11, 2012.
A demonstration in favor of Catalan independence in Barcelona on September 11, 2012.TEJEDERAS

The road to the November 9 status vote in Catalonia is an issue that is taking up an important part of daily life in the region. Many politicians and analysts believe that the referendum will be canceled, and regional premier Artur Mas is busy working on his plan B in case the vote is not held. The CiU nationalist bloc leader is to call early elections in a bid to win over pro-separatist supporters and show the rest of Spain that the independence drive is not dead.

Mas has publicly and privately assured his closest aides that he wants to wait until the end of his mandate in 2016 before calling elections. But according to regional government sources, everything now depends on the current political climate and whether his drive to hold the status vote in November succeeds.

According to a poll conducted by the region released on Tuesday, at least 60 percent of all Catalans believe that Catalonia will eventually become a new member state within the European Union. This opinion resonates among the majority of Catalans despite the fact that EU officials have warned that an independent Catalonia will have to apply for membership of the bloc, which may turn out to be a long and tedious process. The 28 nations that make up the EU, including Spain, will have to unanimously approve Catalonia’s application.

The Catalonia National Assembly (ANC), the private entity that drummed up massive support among separatists at the past two Diada Catalan national day celebrations, is the driving force behind the independence campaign.

The ANC plans on calling its forces out on the streets to demand that the status referendum be held

Headed by Carme Forcadell, a Catalan Republican Left (ERC) member, the ANC has scored several political victories in the region over the past few years. In 2012, it was able to pressure Mas into holding regional elections, which allowed the pro-separatist ERC to become an important partner in his current government. The political parties that are backing the status referendum have already complied with a series of goals mapped out by the ANC when the private organization was founded in 2011.

In the coming weeks, the ANC plans on calling its forces – 22,000 paid members and 17,000 other supporters spread out across 519 local municipal assemblies – out on the streets to demand that the status referendum be held should Mas and his government decide to cancel it.

On April 5, the ANC will vote for a proposed platform that will outline its strategies to accomplish the founding of a “Republic of Catalonia” within one year.

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