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INDEPENDENCE BID

“I will not change course,” says Catalan leader Artur Mas

Regional premier responds to PP calls to abandon plans to hold vote on independence

Regional premier Mas in parliament on Wednesday.
Regional premier Mas in parliament on Wednesday.

Catalan regional premier Artur Mas on Wednesday made clear that he would not be making a U-turn on his plans to hold a referendum on independence in the northeastern Spanish region.

Speaking in the regional parliament, Mas responded to a call from the center-right Popular Party (PP) to abandon his plans for a non-binding vote on a breakaway from Spain, saying: “I will not back down from our determination to allow the Catalan people to decide their future.”

While there is political consensus, a peaceful attitude and respect for democracy we are going to continue”

Mas was due on Wednesday afternoon to begin a round of talks with other nationalist groups in the Catalan parliament on how to proceed, after on Monday the Constitutional Court accepted an appeal filed by the central PP government against the planned vote, thus automatically suspending any campaigning.

During Mas’s first appearance in parliament since the court’s decision, the Convergence and Union (CiU) politician made clear that the idea is to hold a vote, although he did not mention the planned November 9 date for the poll. “While there is political consensus, social mobilization, a peaceful attitude and respect for democracy we are going to continue,” Mas said in response to the call for a change in course from Alicia Sánchez-Camacho, the leader of the PP in Catalonia. “The PP and the government will put all the obstacles they can in our way, but this can end with the Catalan people going to vote,” he continued. “That depends on what this parliament and this country [Catalonia] does – this time it doesn’t depend on you.”

The parliamentary session also revealed the tension between the main nationalist parties over the course that should now be taken. The Popular Unity Candidates (CUP) and the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) censured Mas for having canceled the November 9 vote campaign, in accordance with the Constitutional Court ruling, and asked when it would be restarted. The regional premier went no further than expressing his confidence that the court would not take long to reach a ruling on the appeal.

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