Catalan Separatists Agree on Independence But Little Else

Catalonia’s separatist parties agree they want to break away from Spain, but that’s about all they agree on.

The Palau de la Generalitat in Barcelona, Spain, September 26, 2012
The Palau de la Generalitat in Barcelona, Spain, September 26, 2012 (Wikimedia Commons/Andriy Sadivskyy)

A majority of the parties in the Catalan legislature approved a plan on Wednesday to “disconnect” the region from the rest of Spain, but secession is marred by infighting among the ruling separatists.

Regional president Carles Puigdemont, leader of the Junts pel Sí (“Together for Yes”) alliance, said on the same day he would call a confidence vote in September. This is effectively an ultimatum to his far-left coalition partner, the Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP).

Puigdemont came to power in January under a deal with the CUP, a tiny independence party that unexpectedly held the balance of power after the last election.

In June, it voted down Puigdemont’s budget proposal, creating a crisis in the coalition that has yet to be resolved.

Unwieldy coalition

Junts pel Sí is itself a left-right coalition. Puigdemont’s center-right teamed up with the Republican Left to turn the regional election in September into a de facto referendum on independence.

Spain’s central government and Constitutional Court have consistently blocked an official independence referendum in the region.

Junts pel Sí fell seven seats short of a majority, forcing it into a coalition with the CUP.

The CUP had no governing experience and holds very different views from the mainstream separatists. It would pull an independent Catalonia out of the European Union and NATO, for example, whereas Junts pel Sí wants membership of both. The CUP’s economic program is basically Marxist whereas Puigdemont’s is middle-of-the-road.

It doesn’t look like the two will agree on anything but independence. Whether or not that’s enough to keep their unwieldy coalition together, we’ll see in the next couple of months.

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