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'Catalonia is Spain's next crisis': Financial Times

Published: 16 Dec 2013 10:09 GMT+01:00

Catalonia President Mas announced on Thursday that Catalonia planned to hold a referendum on November 9th.

Parties led by Mas's governing CiU alliance — representing some two thirds of Catalonia's government — agreed to put two questions to voters, asking first: "Do you think that Catalonia should be a State, yes or no?"

The second question would be: "If yes, do you want that State to be independent, yes or no?"

Popular Party (PP) Prime Minister Rajoy was quick poured cold water on the idea of an independence poll in Catalonia saying it would not happen.

The Financial Times, which called the vote a "palpable fudge" as it was designed to appeal to as many voters as possible, said Mas had caught Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy "off guard" with the plan.

But the UK paper also argued that Spain's "quasi-federal" system with its 17 autonomous regions had functioned quite well until Rajoy 'sabotaged' that system by having "sensitive bits of the reformed statute of autonomy of Catalonia" struck down by Spain's Constitutional Court.

The FT then called for "more federalism" and "institutional renewal" to accommodate the needs of the Catalans and the Basques.

This is "a political problem that requires a negotiated solution", said the paper.

A poll conducted in Catalonia by Spain's centre-right El Mundo newspaper on Thursday and Friday showed poor support for the region's politicians. 

Artur Mas of the CiU party was rated most highly, scoring 4.48 out of 10, while fellow pact member Oriol Junqueras of the separatist ERC scored 4.62.

The conservative PP leader in Catalonia, Alice Sánchez-Camacho, scored 2.75 out of ten.

Catalonia, with a distinct history and culture from the rest of Spain, has long been considered an engine of Spain's economy, but it has suffered in the economic crisis of recent years.

On September 11th, Catalonia's national day, hundreds of thousands of Catalans massed in a vast human chain stretching across the region to demand independence.

Catalonia's national day recalls the conquest of Barcelona by Spanish king Philip V's forces in 1714.

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George Mills/The Local/AFP (george.mills@thelocal.com)

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