Podemos rejects unilateral Catalan referendum

En Comú Podem leader and federal deputy Xavier Domènech. Photo: Europa Press via Público
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• EnComúPodem calls for new elections rather than go-it-alone plebiscite
• 59pct of Catalans want accord with central gov’t over independence vote

Faced with the inability of pro-independence Catalan regional leaders to reach mutual agreement with Spain’s central government over a referendum on Catalan independence from Spain, the regional EnComúPodem of national anti-austerity party Podemos (We Can) has called for early regional elections and says it will not support another uniliateral referendum vote staged solely by the Catalan authorities.

The announcement from En Comú Podem (Together We Can) leader Xavier Domènech last week appears to have the support of national Podemos leadership, with federal deputy and ranking Podemos leader Rafael Mayoral saying over the weekend that Catalan regional President Carlos Puigdemont should step down immediately and call new elections in the northeast region, given his failure to reach a referendum deal with the conservative Partido Popular (PP) government of Mariano Rajoy.

Puigdemont has said he intends to go ahead with a referendum vote tentatively set for September without the approval of the federal government, but that when the current term of the Catalan government expires next year he will not seek re-election as Catalan president, sparking a rash of speculation in the press over which leader within the pro-independence governing coalition in Catalonia might succeed him.

A recent poll of Catalans by the Barcelona-based daily newspaper La Vanguardia shows that 76 percent of Catalans say they are in favor of holding a referendum, but that 59.1% of those polled say they want a referendum only if it is agreed between the regional and federal governments. The Vanguardia polls shows 42.3 percent of Catalans polled in favor of separation from Spain, with 41.9 percent opposed, while other recent polls have shown a similarly slight advantage for those who wish for Catalonia to remain a part of Spain.

► Read More in Spanish at Público, El Mundo and La Vanguardia …

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