CATALONIA: SEPARATISTS HESITATE




Robert Harneis -TDO- (FRANCE) There are reports that the  Catalonia’s President Carles Puidgemont’s PdeCat party, and their allies the ERC, are abandoning their attempt to declare unilateral independence from Spain after the Spanish takeover of their region, and are instead seeking negotiations. Recent opinion polls may explain why.

Barely a quarter of Catalans want to continue with a plan to claim independence from Spain after the Dec. 21 elections have taken place, according to a poll published in El Pais newspaper on Monday 27th November.

An illegal Catalan independence referendum on October 1st plunged Spain into its worst political crisis in decades. The situation eased after the Madrid government took a firm line and sacked the secessionist Catalan authorities with little resistance. But uncertainty could return if the pro-independence camp wins in the Dec. 21 vote.

Just 24 percent of those polled by Metroscopia said they would like to continue with the independence process after the elections, whereas 71 percent said they would prefer politicians to find an agreement based on Catalonia staying part of Spain.

Pro-independence parties may fail to retain an absolute majority of seats in the Catalan parliament in next month’s election, the first part of the poll published on Sunday showed. However, the survey’s margin of error is 2.4 percent and much uncertainty remains.

Failure to capture a majority in the regional parliament would be a big upset for the Catalan separatists who have billed the election as a judgement on Madrid’s decision to impose direct rule on the region last month.

The October referendum produced a large majority in favor of independence, but turnout was only 43 percent because many who opposed the breakaway did not vote.

Catalan separatist parties are forecast to win 46 percent of the vote on 21st December, down slightly from 47.7 percent in a previous election in 2015. Unionist parties combined would account for another 46 percent of votes, up from less than 40 percent last time, according to the Metroscopia poll.

Turnout for the election, which former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said on Saturday would be the most important in the region’s history, is predicted to reach a record 80 percent.

However the separatists have not given up on forming a Catalan republic, but now seem to believe they need agreement with Madrid to do so. This seems unlikely to be forthcoming.