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CATALAN POLITICS

Embattled Catalan leader vows to make a stand despite calls to resign

Artur Mas’s decision to seek reinstatement could lead to fresh elections in the region

Acting Catalan premier Artur Mas will not step down to prevent early elections in March, despite calls to do so from a small party that holds the key to power in the region.

“I am anxious to make a stand in Madrid, and also right here, against the forces that are not making it easy for us,” he said on Monday morning, before meeting with top leaders of his Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC) party to discuss their next move.

Mas, who once said that he would step aside if he ever became “a problem” for the secessionist process, now defends his refusal to leave

On Sunday, Candidatura d’Unitat Popular (CUP) – a small anti-capitalist group that supports leaving the euro zone and holds the key to power in Catalonia – announced that its 10 deputies will not vote in favor of Mas’s reinstatement.

Although Mas formally won the September 27 election with a separatist alliance called Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes), no government has been formed yet due to CUP’s refusal to support a new Mas administration on the grounds that he represents corruption and social spending cuts.

The Monday meeting is expected to confirm that CDC offers no alternative candidate to Mas, even though CUP leaders have said they would support any other nominee put forward by Junts pel Sí.

If a new premier is not voted in by January 10, Catalonia will face fresh elections in early March, as per Spanish legislation. The polls would be the fourth in the region in five years.

Mas, who once said that he would step aside if he ever became “a problem” for the secessionist process, now defends his refusal to leave.

“I am not the problem, the problem is how we can best guarantee the Catalan process,” he said on Tuesday in an interview on Catalunya Ràdio. “If we convey the sense that CUP is the one making all the decisions around here, the sovereignty project will derail.”

English version by Susana Urra.