Independence project flounders as deadlock continues in Catalonia

Radical anti-capitalist party CUP agrees to vote against Artur Mas at investiture vote

New elections are likely to be called for March, given lack of agreement with Junts pel Sí

After weeks of negotiations, assemblies and internal debates, radical left-wing party Candidatura d’Unitat Popular (CUP) – a small anti-capitalist group that supports leaving the euro zone and holds the key to power in Catalonia – agreed on Sunday that its 10 deputies in the Catalan regional parliament will not vote in favor of the investiture of Artur Mas, the pro-independence politician from the Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes) party.

The likelihood of new elections in Catalonia will only be avoided if Junts pel Sí comes up with an alternative candidate

The decision pushes Catalonia toward fresh elections, given that no party emerged with a majority at the September 27 polls, with only CUP and Junts pel Sí – an alliance of several parties that include Mas’s own Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC), a liberal party with little sympathy for CUP’s leftist program – holding the votes needed to form a government. However, Mas’s candidacy for premier has proved a sticking point for CUP, who associate the acting premier with various corruption cases in the region.

The likelihood of new elections in Catalonia – those in September were cast as a de facto plebiscite on independence for the region by Mas and his party – will only be avoided if Junts pel Sí comes up with an alternative candidate, which is what CUP has been demanding.

The situation has now cast serious doubts over the independence process – to which the central government in Madrid is fiercely opposed – and also leaves Mas’s political future hanging in the balance.

After Sunday’s decision by CUP, the regional parliament will be dissolved on January 10, should a new premier not be voted it. Mas will at that point be forced to call new elections. The most likely date for the polls will be March 6, according to Spanish electoral law.

Since the September vote, Mas has insisted that he is the only candidate his party will present.

“We have said no to those we have had to say no,” said CUP deputy Gabriela Serra. “We have now moved our [chess] piece and they haven’t, and that piece is called Artur Mas.”

English version by Simon Hunter.

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