CATALONIA GEARS UP FOR SEPARATION FROM SPAIN

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Presidential candidate Carles Puigdemont delivers speech in the Parlament de Catalunya last 10 January 2016/Job Vermeulen

By GUIDEPOST

 

After more than three months of uncertainty due to CUP’s (the Popular Unity Candidacy) refusal to support the reelection of incumbent Catalan president Artur Mas, the small pro-independence anti-capitalist party agreed at the last minute  to cast its 10 parliamentary votes in favor of Carles Puigdemont, a substitute candidate who has vowed to uphold Mas´ secessionist agenda.

Ironically, CUP’s meagre parliamentary votes insured  an absolute majority for the pro-independence parties (the Junts pel Si or “Together for Yes” alliance led by Artur Mas plus CUP) who grand-totaled 70 votes in a regional parliament of 135 seats. This facilitated the investiture of Puigdemont last Sunday night.

The 53 year old former journalist was mayor of the Catalan city of Girona. As such he presided the Asociació de Municipis por la Independència (Association of Municipalities for Independence). As newly elected president, he enjoys a clear mandate from the regional parliament and vows to speed up the formation of a new Catalan state the cornerstone of which consists  of a Catalan central bank, tax authority, a social security system, and even an embryo military force. Timetable: 18 months.

Outgoing regional president Artur Mas shakes hands with the incoming Carles Puigdemnt during the investitutre

Outgoing regional president Artur Mas, left, shakes hands with the incoming Carles Puigdemnt during the investitutre/Job Vermeulen

It remains to be seen, however, how strong Catalonia’s secessionism really is.  Bogged down by months of infighting, the secessionists could not come to an agreement until the 11th hour. If by midnight of 10 January 2016 no president of the Generalitat (the regional government) was elected by absolute parliamentary majority, new election would have had to be held in March, according to the law of the autonomous region.

In this putative scenario the outlook for the secessionists wasn’t so good. A new election would have spotlighted the pro-independence leaders’ utter failure to set aside their differences for the sake of a new Catalan state.

Moreover, after a close brush with secessionism, the “silent majority” in Catalonia who prefer to stay with Spain would now have felt they had a real stake in the new election and vote unwaveringly for a No to independence.

Actually, some analysts doubted whether the secessionists would have had as strong a showing at the polls as they did in the last (27 September 2015), if the election were held again soon.

The threat of a new election, analysts say, was what finally prompted the pro-independence folk to vote Puigdemont into office before the midnight hour.

Having done so, there’ s a palpable euphoria in the secessionist camp these days.

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Images
From Parlament de Catalunya official webpage (http://www.parlament.cat/web/galeria-imatges/), by Job Vermeulen, CCAttribution-No Derivs