Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Catalonia's Leader, Artur Mas, Says Spain's New Podemos Party an Obstacle to Independence Movement

From an interview appearing in the Wall Street Journal today:

"As he prepared to embark on a trip to the U.S. where he will promote his independence campaign, Catalan regional President Artur Mas talked in an interview with The Wall Street Journal about the challenge of drumming up international support for his region’s uphill bid...
"The independence debate comes at a time when Spain’s long-stable two-party political system is under siege due to unemployment of 24% and a series of corruption scandals.
"Mr. Mas expressed concern about the rise of Podemos, the youth-led, leftist party that has surged in national polls with its slashing attacks on Spain’s conservative government. The party, with its more radical antiausterity discourse, aims to reframe the political debate in a way that could be unfavorable for the independence movement, he said.
" 'For Catalonia, the underlying problem isn’t the left-right axis, but rather the relationship between Catalonia and the Spanish state,' he said. 'Put another way, whether either the left or right governs, we need more power for Catalonia, more resources for Catalonia, more decision-making capacity, and more protection for our language and culture.'
"The emergence of Podemos 'blurs things a little, or even undermines the basic challenge. In that sense, the appearance of Podemos is a great favor to the interests of the Spanish state.'
"Mr. Mas said Podemos was a distraction from the main issues facing Catalonia and that was 'highly negative' for the independence movement. Some analysts suggest that Podemos could capture protest votes from crisis-weary Catalans which might have previously gone to pro-independence parties.
"In recent years, the pro-secession movement has gained followers in the northern region with its complaint that Madrid drains Catalonia of taxes without respecting its culture. But since 2.3 million people participated in a symbolic vote on independence last November, the separatist movement has run into a rough patch.
"There were open disputes between Mr. Mas and another separatist leader before they agreed to schedule a parliamentary election this September that is designed to serve as a referendum on independence.
"Meanwhile, polls taken in Catalonia since December have shown opponents to independence outnumbering supporters—albeit narrowly—for the first time since 2012."

The photos above are of Mas' last election campaign poster and of Artur Mas wannabe Charlton Heston. Or something like that.

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