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INDEPENDENCE DRIVE

Catalan separatist movement losing steam ahead of regional race — poll

58.1% would cast vote in September election with crisis rather than independence in mind

The 2014 celebrations for Catalonia’s national Diada day.
The 2014 celebrations for Catalonia’s national Diada day.

With just three months to go before regional elections are held in Catalonia, the separatist drive in the northwest region continues to lose steam.

According to a new poll released on Friday, around 50% of Catalans would vote “no” if a referendum on independence is eventually held, compared with 42.9% who would vote “yes” in order to secede from Spain.

Support for the independence cause has dropped 1.2% since the last poll in March

The findings of the latest survey from the regional government’s Center of Opinion Studies show that support for the independence cause has dropped 1.2% since the last poll was conducted in March.

What the poll does not offer, however, are any voting intention figures for the September 27 regional elections. The official reason given by the center is that the breakup of the two parties that make up the regionally ruling CiU Catalan nationalist bloc, Unió Democràtica de Catalunya and Convergència, while the survey was being carried out between June 1 and 24 prevented it from obtaining reliable data.

The period also coincided with when Podemos and other leftist parties were trying to come up with a single candidate for prime minister, which also served to skew results, center director Jordi Argelaguet argued.

The majority of the 2,000 people polled did not seem to view the upcoming parliamentary race as a plebiscite for independence, as the current government of Convergència leader Artur Mas and other pro-separatist parties have tried to portray it. A total of 58.1% of respondents said they would cast their vote according to how each party responds to the crisis, while 21.1% would do so with the relation between Catalonia and Spain in mind. Meanwhile, 14.6% said they would weigh up both factors.

On November 9, Mas defied a court order to hold an informal referendum on independence for the region, which saw 80% vote in favor of secession. However, voter turnout was listed at just 30%.

He then mapped out a plan that would lead Catalonia to secede from Spain 18 months after the next regional elections, which he went on to announce would take place in September.

Despite the lack of voting intention information, the survey did offer direct vote results – a less reliable indicator that simply considers responses to the question “what party would you vote for if elections were held tomorrow?” rather than putting replies through an estimation model. These point to a close tie between the former CiU parties and the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), both of which garnered 13.3% support in the survey. ERC had topped the previous March poll but has since dropped four percentage points. Meanwhile, Unió has said it will not run alongside Convergència in the regional ballot.

Podemos would come in as the third political force if regional elections were held today

According to the poll, Podemos would come in as the third political force with 10.8% of the vote if elections were held today, while the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) would take fourth place with 9.2% – a three-percentage-point rise since March.

The leftist pro-sovereignty CUP party would attain 7.25% support, followed by the anti-independence Ciutadans party – which was founded in Catalonia before entering national politics as Ciudadanos – with 6.6% and the ICV leftist greens with 3.5%.

The Popular Party (PP) would place last, with 2.4%, according to the survey.

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