Catalan separatist government in turmoil as hardliners vote to leave | News from Catalonia

Catalan separatist government in turmoil as hardliners vote to leave |  News from Catalonia
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In an internal vote, 55.7 percent of Junts party members vote to leave Catalonia’s regional coalition government.

Catalonia’s pro-independence coalition government is on the brink of collapse after its younger member decided to abandon it amid the most significant crisis in the Spanish region’s separatist movement in the last decade.

In an internal vote on Friday, 55.7 percent of Junts party members voted to leave the regional coalition government amid a row with the Party of the Republican Left of Catalonia (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya) at the head of government, the junts said in an explanation.

The turnout of the members was 79.1 percent.

Catalan President Pere Aragones said he would not call snap elections. Instead, his left-wing ERC wants to govern with a minority.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called for “stability” at a press conference in Prague, where he was attending an EU summit.

“In these difficult and complex times, government stability is essential,” he said.

“I like stability, in this case the government of Catalonia.”

A Junts spokesman told Reuters before announcing the result that his leadership would stand by the binding vote.

Junts President Laura Borras told a press conference in Barcelona that Aragones had “lost democratic legitimacy”.

That separatist crisis erupted five years after Catalonia’s chaotic independence drive plunged Spain into its worst political crisis in decades.

Esquerra has hinted in recent days that he would not call snap elections if his junior government partner decides to step down, but governing alone would be a challenge given the left-wing party’s lack of a parliamentary majority. The coalition was formed in May 2021.

At the heart of the dispute is the pace of independence, an issue dividing moderates and hardliners.

Esquerra has backed negotiations with Madrid to agree a binding referendum and widen the Catalans’ support for leaving Spain. About 52 percent of Catalans are against independence and 41 percent support it, according to a June poll.

Junts, who led the prosperous north-eastern region when its government accepted independence in 2012, have backed a more aggressive approach, and may have avoided talks with Madrid Replaying the events of 2017.

Catalonia then, despite a court ban and opposition from Madrid, held an independence referendum and later issued a short-lived declaration of independence. Several high-profile leaders have been imprisoned for almost four years in connection with these events, while others went into self-imposed exile.

Junts last week announced plans for an internal vote to remain in government after Catalonia’s leader sacked his deputy, who is affiliated with Junts, after the party proposed a parliamentary vote of confidence in the government.

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