Spain's Catalonia region to hold elections on November 28
Catalonia Tuesday announced regional elections for November 28, amid growing tensions with Madrid over changes to a charter that gave the northeastern region sweeping powers.
The head of the Catalan government, Jose Montilla, announced the date in the regional capital of Barcelona.
"These elections will be decisive and very important," he said.
"They will take place against a backdrop of a sharp economic crisis and a general discrediting of politics, just a few weeks after the decision by Spain's Constitutional Court regarding the Catalan autonomy statute."
The Constitutional Court in June struck down several articles of a charter that expanded the already significant powers of self rule of the Catalan government, sparking mass protests in the region.
Most significantly, the court ruled that the use of the word "nation" to describe the region had "no legal value" although it said the article concerned did not violate the constitution.
Montilla has said the court's decision "attacked the dignity of Catalans".
The November vote will pit the socialists, which leads the ruling coalition and is also in power at the national level in Spain, against a coalition of two centre-right nationalist parties, Convergencia i Unio (CiU) and Solidaritat Catalana.
Polls show the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) trails the coalition of nationalist parties, which has been led since Friday by the popular former head of Barcelona football club, Joan Laporta.
Last week Spain's Labour Minister Celestino Corbacho announced he is to quit his cabinet post to help the PSC in the Catalan elections.
Catalonia, which has an active separatist movement, is home to around seven million of Spain's population of some 47 million and accounts for 25 percent of its gross domestic product.
© 2010 AFP