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Home News Zapatero leads Catalan bid through parliament

Zapatero leads Catalan bid through parliament

Published on 06/02/2006

6 February 2006

MADRID — José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero began the difficult task of steering the so-called Catalan statute through the lower house of the national parliament.

The autonomy bid by the north-east region was being debated by a commission of the national parliament on Monday.

The ‘estatut’ would give Catalonia more tax-raising authorities and allow the region to call itself a nation in its own right.

Zapatero has done a deal with one of the main Catalan parties which drew up the document, Convergencia i Union (CiU), which would allow it to keep 50 percent of its taxes, instead of the present 33 percent.

The notion of Catalonia as a ‘nation’ has been watered down.

But still Zapatero needs to secure the support of both the nationalist Catalan party Esquerra Republicana (ERC) for the new statute deal.

This is because his minority party depends on the ERC for support in getting legislation through parliament.

There are signs ERC are closer to doing a deal and agreeing to the new version of the statute.

But Zapatero has to be careful not to alienate members of his own party who are against Catalan autonomy ambitions and support of the public at large.

A recent poll for El Pais newspaper found nearly 50 percent of Spaniards thought the Catalan autonomy bid would provoke similar moves from elsewhere in Spain and eventually split the country.

The Opposition Popular Party, which opposes the move, is calling for a national referendum on the issue and is organising a petition.

It says it has 800,000 signatures.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news