Destinations Magazine

Catalonia to Set a Referendum on Independence

By Stizzard

Nationalist leaders in Catalonia agreed to form a new government and hold a referendum on independence for the wealthy region, maintaining a push for autonomy that poses a major challenge to Spain’s central government.

The deal signed Wednesday will allow Artur Mas of the conservative Convergence and Union party to be sworn in for a new term as the region’s leader despite his stinging setback in the election last month he had called to gather support for independence. It puts him in an uneasy coalition with Oriol Junqueras of the Republican Left of Catalonia, traditionally more radical in its support for separatism and in its economic policies.

Given those differences, some Spanish officials and analysts question whether the coalition can last. If it does, Mr. Mas would be obliged to hold a referendum in 2014, setting the stage for renewed confrontation with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Only the central government can authorize such a vote, and Mr. Rajoy has said it won’t do so. In that case, Catalonia’s nationalist leaders have said they would seek legal support in European Union or international law.

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