Thousands of Catalans demand snap regional vote

Thousands of Catalans demand snap regional vote

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Thousands of pro-independence Catalans rallied on Sunday, demanding snap elections after the region's leader Artus Mas watered down plans for a referendum on separating from Spain.

"President, call elections; president we want a vote within three months, we want to go into spring 2015 with a new parliament," said Carme Forcadell, who leads the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) that has organised massive pro-independence demonstrations in the northeastern Spanish region.

The Catalan regional government headed by Mas had planned an independence referendum, but that has been put on hold after the federal government filed a challenge at the Constitutional Court.

On Tuesday, Mas watered down plans for the November 9 non-binding ballot, saying that he would organise a symbolic vote on that date under an alternative legal framework to get around the court ruling.

He suggested a vote without a formal electoral roll, thereby falling short of a full referendum.

But Mas' compromise has not gone down well with Catalan's pro-independence camp, with opposition parties on Wednesday demanding a snap regional election if he failed to deliver on the planned referendum.

Proud of their distinct language and culture, Catalonia's 7.5 million inhabitants have increasingly been demanding greater autonomy over recent years. The region accounts for nearly a fifth of Spain's economic output.

© 2014 AFP

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