ALL eyes are on the Catalan election which will take place this Sunday (November 25).
Catalans will cast their vote for a new regional assembly. This election could have considerable consequences for Catalonia and the rest of Spain.
Early predictions see Catalan separatist parties wishing to split from Spain win most of the seats in the Catalan Parliament, current Catalan President Artur Mas to continue on his post and his centre-right alliance party Convergència i Unió (CiU) regain majority ahead of the left-wing independentist Esquerra party. What actually happens remains to be seen.
Mas called for early elections last September after Barcelona and Madrid failed to reach agreement on a new fiscal pact. The Catalan government wanted the right to collect and decide on the region’s own taxes instead of passing them on to Madrid as it currently does. President Mariano Rojoy opposed the move prompting Mas to say Catalans would be better off creating a “state of their own”.
For this to happen, pro-separatist parliamentarians need only make up two thirds of its ranks, paving the way for a referendum on the independence of Catalonia.
Catalonia is responsible for a fifth of the Spanish economy out of the country’s 17 regions. As the fourth largest economy in the eurozone, European capitals will be taking note of the Catalan election results as Rajoy is trying to avoid a bailout from Europe despite a severe recession in Spain.
Despite being one of the biggest contributors to the Spanish budget, Catalans have long complained they get far less back in funding for services and public works. The deficit lies at around €15billion, according to the Catalan government.
Another complaint is that the rest of Spain does not respect their different Catalan identity and language. Two years ago, Catalans were outraged when the Spanish Constitutional Court eliminated some aspects of their autonomy in an updated regional statute that had been approved by Spanish Parliament four years before.
Everything came to a head on Catalan national day on September 11 this year when more than one million of Catalonia’s 7.5 million citizens took to Barcelona’s streets to call for independence.
If Catalonia gains independence, it could raise many questions in Brussels including whether they would have to re-apply for EU membership.
Meanwhile, Mas has accused the Popular Party government of standing behind a personal smear campaign and scaremongering to dissuade Catalans from voting for CiU.
The existence of a police report into the alleged fraud by Catalan leader Artur Mas has been denied by the Interior Ministry. They say it is not being used as part of any investigation
They claim the phantom document is part of a “dirty war” ahead of elections.
Spanish newspaper El Mundo had been picking over the purported document since last Friday. It suggests that senior members of the CiU Catalan nationalist coalition – including current regional premier Artur Mas, Mas’ father, and the center-right bloc’s founder Jordi Pujol, who governed the region for 23 years – have been involved in fraudulent activities.
Mas and Pujol have launched legal action against El Mundo for publishing the informatio