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CATALAN QUESTION

Catalan leader fixes date for early election showdown

Regional premier tells Catalonia's assembly he wants to go the polls on November 25

Catalan premier Artur Mas on Tuesday told the region's parliament that he is calling arly elections on November 25.

The decision to go to the ballot box before Mas’ mandate is up comes after growing calls for independence for Spain’s richest region and the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s rejection of his demands for a fiscal pact under which Catalonia would have the right to levy its own revenues and for these to be divvied out with the state.

A victory for Mas' CiU center-right nationalist formation would give him a mandate to pursue greater control over the Catalan region's affairs.

There are no specific avenues in the Spanish Constitution that allow for the secession of a region. The opposition Socialist Party has proposed amending the Constitution to introduce a fully-fledged federal system along the lines of other European countries such as Germany.

The Rajoy administration has thrown out the idea of a new funding arrangement for all of the regions. Catalan government spokesman Francesc Homs classified as “disconcerting” and “contradictory” the invitation of the Rajoy administration for talks on improving regional funding. He said the appeal for negotiation would not distract Catalan nationalists from their intention of going “our own way.”

Mas on Monday said he intended to present a resolution to the regional assembly that demands that “the people of Catalonia be allowed to freely and democratically decide their collective future.”

However, Homs said Catalonia, which has asked Madrid for an emergency loan of some five billion euros to settle debts maturing this year, was open to talks. “We are not closing the door to dialogue,” he said.

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