Catalan public opinion swings toward “no” for independence, says survey

Growing numbers of citizens support federal model that falls short of secession from Spain

ERC leader Oriol Junqueras (l) wants Artur Mas (r) to call early elections in the coming days or weeks.
ERC leader Oriol Junqueras (l) wants Artur Mas (r) to call early elections in the coming days or weeks.ALBERT GARCIA

For the first time since Catalan leader Artur Mas began his ongoing independence drive in 2012, a survey shows that a majority in the region would reject secession if a referendum were held now.

The latest poll by the Catalan executive’s Opinion Studies Center (CEO) shows that 45.3 percent of citizens would vote no to the question: “Would you like Catalonia to become an independent state?” compared with 44.5 percent who would support the move.

By comparison, last October the yes vote represented 49.4 percent of respondents. The research center asked the same two questions that were put to citizens on November 9, when the Catalan government held its non-binding vote on independence for the region.

The poll asked the same questions the Catalan government asked during its vote on independence for the region

Canvassers also asked Catalans which state model they prefer: a fully independent state, a federalist system that would grant greater powers to the regions but fall short of independence, or the existing autonomous system with its devolved powers.

Here as well, secessionist sentiment has fallen compared to October. The first option dropped from 45.3 percent to 36.2 percent, while federalism has grown from 22.2 percent to 28.9 percent. In the survey, 21.8 percent want things to remain the way they are, versus 22.2 percent in October.

The Socialist Party has long been calling for a restructured state model that would turn Spain into a federation of associated entities, although so far no Socialist leader has provided any details of how such a system would work or how it would be different from the current model of autonomous regions.

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As for the next regional elections, the survey shows that the ruling nationalist bloc Convergència i Unió (CiU) and their on-and-off coalition partners Republican Left (ERC) would practically be tied, with around 35 representatives each.

Premier Mas has been toying with the idea of calling early elections to act as a de facto plebiscite on independence for Catalonia, but no date has yet been set.

ERC leader Oriol Junqueras said on Friday that he trusts Mas will do so soon.

“We are certain that the chief of the Generalitat will make this gesture and call elections in the coming days or weeks, which is what all the citizens of Catalonia are expecting,” he said after meeting with Mas in the regional assembly.

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