Catalonia government collapses over budget dispute as cultural separation continues

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CATALONIA’S ruling coalition fell apart on June 8 when the anti-austerity CUP party declared its opposition to the governments’ budget, planting a huge hurdle in the ‘Together for Yes’ groups’ independence roadmap. 

 The CUP, further to the left than their coalition partners, argued that the planned budget would continue the austerity measures widely implemented across the autonomous region. Acting as kingmaker following the 2015 parliamentary elections, the party rejected the candidacy of former president Artur Mas and eventually agreed a deal with Together for Yes that saw Carles Puigdemont installed as president.

“We can’t continue in these conditions, we’re going nowhere with such volatile bases,” said Puigdemont after the CUP announcement. 

“My government has lost the necessary majority to be able to work and accomplish our government plan.”

The pro-independence leader and former mayor of Girona then declared that he would face a vote of no-confidence in September, which could usher in new elections should he lose. 

Internecine conflict in the breakaway region has severely impacted constructive moves towards full independence from Spain as the various local parties struggle to find common ground on economic philosophy. 

Meanwhile on a cultural level the gradual separation of Catalonia from Castilian Spain continued with the withdrawal of five Catalonian cities from the national Spanish network of towns with historic Jewish quarters. 

There are 24 Spanish cities which together promote their Jewish heritage, largely for preservation and tourism purposes, but Girona, Besalu, Castello d’Empuries, Tortosa and Barcelona have now left the network. 

Director of the Network of Spanish Jewish Quarters, Marta Puig Quixal claimed that the breakaway was “another example of how Catalan institutions are looking to go their own way.”

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