REGIONAL UNREST

Three quarters of Catalans want independence vote, survey reveals

Education minister says government wants to “Hispanicize” region’s students

Three out of every four Catalans are in favor of holding a poll to decide on independence for Spain’s richest region, according to a survey published Wednesday by the Catalan government’s Center for Opinion Studies.

The news comes as Education Minister José Ignacio Wert stirred the nationalist nest by saying the central government wants to “Hispanicize Catalan students” with the end of making them “feel as proud as being Spaniards as Catalans.”

Pro-independence sentiment has risen in Catalonia in recent months on the back of the economic crisis. According to the survey, 74.1 percent of Catalans want a referendum on independence. Nearly all voters for the region’s main pro-independence parties are in favor — including 83.4 percent of supporters of regional premier Artur Mas’s CiU nationalist bloc, 92 percent of ERC Catalan Republican Left voters and 96.1 percent of leftist-green ICV voters — the survey revealed.

Almost 60 percent of Catalan Socialist Party supporters are also in favor of the vote.

The Catalan parliament last month passed a resolution in favor of holding a vote on independence in its next legislature. It has brought forward regional elections to November 25 after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy refused to negotiate a fiscal pact to help the heavily indebted region.

The central government has said it will use all mechanisms in its power to prevent a referendum on independence from taking place.

Also inflaming pro-independence passions in recent months have been proposed education reforms that will reduce regional governments’ influence over what is taught in Spain’s classrooms.

Education minister Wert’s comments to Congress on Wednesday “confirm there is an offensive to change the state model,” said Catalan education chief Irene Rigau, who also denied his suggestion that the region’s schools indoctrinated students in Catalan nationalism.

“We like it that Catalan students know the histories of Catalonia, Spain and the world. They [the central government] only want them to know the history of Spain,” she said.

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