Interview with Artur Mas, President of Catalonia: “The plan is to vote on November 9″ (08 October 2014)
The Catalan leader, Artur Mas, says Catalonia remains on track for its scheduled vote on whether to break from Spain, but he suggested in an interview on Tuesday that he would not push the country to a constitutional crisis by holding the vote if it were deemed illegal.
The remarks provided the first glimmer of willingness by Mr. Mas, a late but staunch convert to secessionism, to ensure that Catalonia would not be responsible for provoking a crisis in Spain. Catalonia, Spain’s economic powerhouse, is trying to go ahead with a secession vote that the central government in Madrid has vowed to block.
Mr. Mas nevertheless indicated that if he could not hold a legal vote on separation, he would pursue a longer-term strategy to achieve an independent Catalonia by calling for new elections for the regional Parliament “as a plebiscite.”
Mr. Mas, who signed a decree last month approving the Nov. 9 vote, insisted in the interview that his position had been made untenable by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s refusal to discuss the vote, even after a failed referendum on Scotland’s independence last month.
He said that his government had initially hoped to follow Scotland’s example and persuade the government of Mr. Rajoy to allow a vote on independence. Mr. Rajoy’s government has steadfastly refused, and, if anything, it has been emboldened by the failure of the Scottish vote.
Mr. Mas said that he would hold a vote without Mr. Rajoy’s approval, but not illegally, though he complained that the Spanish judiciary was biased against Catalonia’s interests.
“The only plan is to vote on Nov. 9, and we will consider all the possible ways that take us within the law toward that point,” he said.
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