Catalan Republican Left says no to joint secessionist run in early elections

ERC leader Oriol Junqueras cites corruption as key reason for rejecting CiU bloc's offer

Catalan premier Artur Mas (left) and ERC leader Oriol Junqueras.
Catalan premier Artur Mas (left) and ERC leader Oriol Junqueras.gustau nacarino (Reuters)

There will be no grand union of pro-independence forces running together at Catalonia’s next regional elections.

Despite the best efforts by Catalan premier Artur Mas, of the CiU nationalist bloc, to convince his political colleagues of the benefits of such a move, they remained unconvinced.

Oriol Junqueras, head of the influential Catalan Republican Left (ERC), is rejecting the offer on the grounds that he disagrees with the ruling bloc’s social policies and that CiU is too tainted by corruption cases.

Corruption makes us weak and it hurts us morally and economically” ERC leader Oriol Junqueras

“Independence is indissoluble from the notion of a more equitable country, but also one that is totally clean and where the fight against corruption constitutes the backbone of the new state,” he said on Tuesday before a crowd of 2,000 in Barcelona. “Corruption makes us weak and it hurts us morally and economically.”

But Junqueras, an ardent secessionist who wants to proclaim Catalan independence and start functioning as a sovereign state “from day one,” did support “a government of unity” to be created after the next regional elections.

The Catalan premier has been considering early elections in the region in the wake of the unofficial vote on self-rule held on November 9. While that poll yielded 80 percent support for independence, its validity has been widely questioned outside secessionist circles.

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Mas suggested that early elections could function as a more official way to gauge whether Catalans support his independence drive or not. But a recent voter intention survey showed that ERC was more likely to win early elections than CiU.

Junqueras this week asked for elections to be held “as soon as possible.”

“Drawing it out unnecessarily only generates suffering,” he said.

ERC’s decision to go it alone has also created a rift with the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), a civic association of pro-independence activists that was instrumental in organizing the informal referendum and supports Mas’s idea of a united candidacy.

Speaking on Catalan TV station TV3, ANC leader Carme Forcadell asked Mas and Junqueras to sit down to negotiate.

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