Catalonia's separatist leader 'ready' to call fresh elections

5th January 2016, Comments 0 comments

Catalonia's outgoing separatist leader Artur Mas said Tuesday he was reluctantly "ready" to call fresh parliamentary elections as the Spanish region's secessionist faction that won September polls failed to agree on who should lead a new government.

"I'm ready -- against my will, this is not what we wanted and it is not what I want -- but I'm ready to sign the decree to convene elections," he told reporters in Barcelona as a January 9 deadline to form a new government approached dangerously close.

Calling fresh elections -- which would be the fourth since 2010 in Catalonia -- would be a setback for the region's secessionist drive, which has been a major thorn in the side of Madrid.

Mas's "Together for Yes" secessionist alliance -- helped by the small, far-left separatist CUP party -- won a majority of seats in the 135-seat Catalan parliament in September elections in the wealthy, 7.5-million-strong northeastern region.

But the honeymoon was short-lived as "Together for Yes", which won 62 seats, battled with the CUP to form a government.

Despite more than three months of intense negotiations, the small party that got 10 seats refused to give Mas the backing he needs to head up Catalonia again, resenting the austerity measures he implemented and the corruption scandals linked to his party.

"I don't know if they realise the magnitude of the mistake they are making," Mas told reporters.


© 2016 AFP

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