Financial Times – Debate over Catalan secession hots up

Parties opposed to independence for Catalonia are heading for a heavy defeat in a snap parliamentary election in November, according to opinion polls, with the prospect of a referendum on secession from Spain sharply polarising the political debate in the region.

The polls are the first since Artur Mas, the Catalan president, shocked Spain and unnerved financial markets last week with a call for early regional elections. Mr Mas has held out a promise of a referendum on secession from Spain on the heels of a mass-independence rally last month. Most constitutional experts consider a referendum on secession illegal under Spain’s constitution.

The Catalan Socialist, and conservative Popular party, both running on anti-independence tickets, however, look set for heavy losses.

One poll, for El Periodico, the Catalan daily, suggested Mr Mas’ centre-right party, Convergència i Unió, would not achieve an absolute majority, a scenario that would increase the political leverage for Catalonia’s two pro-independence minority parties.

The poll suggested the separatist Republican Left of Catalonia, may add up to eight more seats to the 10 it already holds while the Catalan Socialist and Popular parties could each lose up to a quarter of their seats.

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