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CUP not ruling out backing Mas for premier despite its members’ veto

Head of Catalan anti-capitalist pro-independence party says “all options are still open”

CUP leaders Anna Gabriel, Antonio Baños and Albert Botrán.
CUP leaders Anna Gabriel, Antonio Baños and Albert Botrán. EFE

Over a month after Catalonia held regional elections, the name of the future premier remains unclear.

Although the incumbent Artur Mas won with his separatist coalition Junts pel Sí, the victory was not large enough to deliver an absolute majority.

In order to get himself appointed to a new term in office, Mas requires support from the other secessionist group in the Catalan assembly: the Candidatura d’Unitat Popular (CUP), a small anti-capitalist party that supports leaving the euro zone.

Between yes to Mas and no to Mas, there are a lot of things we are talking about and making progress on”

CUP leader Antonio Baños

But at two investiture debates, the CUP failed to vote for Mas, whom many of its members see as a symbol of political corruption and social cuts in Catalonia.

Mas, who has set himself up as the champion of the separatist drive in the region, has gone so far as to offer CUP a premiership split between four leaders, but refuses to step aside.

On Sunday, the CUP voted to keep blocking Mas’s candidacy, a position that would lead to new elections in March if the gridlock is not broken by January 10.

But this Monday, party leader Antonio Baños said it was still possible for CUP deputies to change their minds. “All options are still open,” he said.

For now, however, the majority opinion among CUP members who came together in a Sunday assembly was to maintain the veto against Mas and continue negotiating further concessions.

“Between Mas and March there is a great space, and that’s where we are working,” added Baños. “Between yes to Mas and no to Mas, there are a lot of things we are talking about and making progress on.”

Neither CUP nor Junts pel Sí are interested in holding new elections after their victory on September 27. But so far, neither side appears willing to back down altogether.

The latter is an alliance made up of several parties that include Mas’s own Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC), a liberal party with little sympathy for CUP’s leftist program.

But CDC’s image has been seriously eroded by a series of corruption probes, to the point that it is running in the December 20 general election under a different name, Democracy and Freedom, in partnership with two smaller groups.

English version by Susana Urra.