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Mas Says He Can Win Support of Catalan Republican Left to Govern

Regional President Artur Mas said he aims to persuade the Catalan Republican Left, known as ERC, to support his government and push jointly for a referendum on independence from Spain.

Mas said today he can envisage forming an alliance with ERC after speaking to party leader Oriol Junqueras earlier this week. Junqueras said he sees himself leading the opposition in the regional parliament, Onda Cero radio station reported on its website yesterday.

“This could work out,” Mas said at a televised press conference dubbed into Spanish from Barcelona. “My impression was good though it’s not ideal.”

Mas is looking to patch together a government to run Spain’s biggest regional economy after losing 12 seats in a Nov. 25 vote that left him short of an outright majority. Junqueras was the biggest winner in the election that Mas called two years early following a wave of support for independence.

ERC, the traditional home of Catalan separatist voters, more than doubled its representation. It claimed 21 seats, making it the second-biggest party.

Mas said any government would be focussed on two priorities: pushing for a referendum, which Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says would be illegal, and pulling Catalonia out of recession while shoring up the social-security system to protect poorer people.

“There is a clear call from across society in favor of the right to choose,” Mas said today.

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