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CATALAN INDEPENDENCE BID

Pep Guardiola to run with pro- sovereignty bloc in Catalan election

Ex-Barcelona FC coach has no intention of taking up office, but wants to support the cause

Pep Guardiola votes in the November 9 informal referendum on independence.
Pep Guardiola votes in the November 9 informal referendum on independence. EFE

Former Barcelona soccer coach Pep Guardiola is to run in the Catalan regional election on September 27 on premier Artur Mas’s joint pro-sovereignty ticket.

While Guardiola, who is now in China with his current club Bayern Munich, has no intention of taking up a seat in the regional parliament if his group is victorious at the polls, he felt that adding his name to the list of candidates would provide a clear gesture of support for Catalan independence.

The goal is to create a very broad list that represents all of Catalan society”

ERC spokesman Sergi Sabrià

The former Barcelona and Spain midfielder has often backed the independence cause, and is already a member of two groups that are also running on the pro-independence ticket, ANC and Òmnium cultural.

Guardiola has also participated in pro-sovereignty street marches held on Catalonia Day, September 11, and flew to Barcelona from Munich to vote in the unofficial referendum on independence held on November 9 of last year.

Besides the associations, the secessionist bid also comprises two parties, the ruling Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC) and the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), who reached a deal last week.

If this group wins the election on September 27, independence could be formally declared six to eight months later, regional premier Artur Mas said last week.

“This is excellent news,” said ERC spokesman Sergi Sabrià upon learning that Guardiola would be joining their initiative. “The goal is to create a very broad list that represents all of Catalan society.”

Ever since Catalonia held an informal referendum on independence in November of last year, surveys have been showing a steady decline in support for the region’s secession from Spain. A December poll by the Catalan executive’s Opinion Studies Center (CEO) showed that 44.5 percent of citizens would vote yes to the question: “Would you like Catalonia to become an independent state?” compared with 49.4 percent in October.

The joint run and the addition of high-profile figures such as Guardiola aim to drum up renewed support for the cause ahead of September 27. Although the ballot is not formally meant as a new referendum on independence, pro-sovereignty leaders are viewing it as such.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy underscored last week that the only thing being decided on September 27 was who would become the next regional premier of Catalonia. “There will be no Catalan independence,” he said on Thursday.

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