‘We want independence in Catalonia this year’

Oriol Junqueras, whose party supports the breakaway government in Barcelona, will not negotiate the 2015 budget and insists on regional elections with a subsequent declaration of independence.

'We want independence in Catalonia this year'
Oriol Junqueras wants regional elections to be held as soon as possible so that the Catalan Parliament can declare independence. Photo: Lluis Gene/AFP

“Wasting time is not good,” Junqueras told Catalunya Ràdio on Friday morning when asked what the next step for the region could be after Catalan leader Artur Mas announced earlier this week that the planned referendum on independence from Spain could not be held with a proper legal status on November 9th.

Instead, Mas said there would be a "participatory" poll with the same questions on whether Catalonia is a state and if it should be independent.

Mas was responding to the Spanish government’s appeal against the referendum to the country’s Constitutional Court, which meant that the procedure was officially suspended.

Junqueras, whose Catalan Republican Left (ERC) party supports Mas’s minority government, said that the only way forward is to hold a snap election and for the region’s lawmakers to then declare independence by a majority vote in the Catalan parliament.

The leftist leader explained that his party would not be negotiating or supporting a regional budget for 2015, saying that he had warned that the 2014 finance bill was the last the ERC would back such measures for Catalonia as a part of Spain.

“If we continue to be a region of Spain, we will have to draw up a budget with €5 billion less [than this year],” Junqueras said, adding that this would make Catalonia “ungovernable”.

Junqueras, whose ERC leads opinion polls ahead of Mas’s CiU coalition, said an election could be held and a parliamentary vote on independence taken within two months. “We need action, for the love of God,” he said. "Let’s do it now. We cannot enter any more negotiations.”

If Mas’s government loses ERC’s support, he would be forced to negotiate with other parties, including the Socialist Party which is not in favour of independence, in order to stay in power.       

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