Catalan President Calls Confidence Vote, Separatist Pact Splits

  • Anti-establishment party CUP refused to back 2016 budget bill
  • Separatist plans for Catalan social security blocked by courts

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said he’ll call a confidence vote after the summer recess in a final attempt to save his government after a junior ally shot down his budget bill.

QuickTake Catalonia

Spain’s biggest regional economy will be heading for its fourth election since 2010 unless Puigdemont can patch together a new majority over the summer after the anti-establishment party CUP lined up with opposition parties to veto the administration’s spending plans in the regional assembly on Wednesday. The budget bill was the centerpiece of the separatist coalition’s so-called road map toward independence.

“I can’t continue governing without a majority supporting me,” Puigdemont said. “Things have changed and I don’t have any interest in extending the mandate unnecessarily.”

Puigdemont’s push to to create the structures for an independent state in just 18 months ran into trouble after the central government in Madrid used the Constitutional Court to block its program. The CUP wanted Puigdemont to defy Spain’s top judges by passing legislation for a signature expansion of regional power, such as a fully-fledged tax agency or its own social security system.

Reluctant Allies

The CUP only agreed to join the governing coalition in Spain’s largest regional economy, and forge a separatist majority in the assembly, after three months of negotiations and a last minute deal that saw Puigdemont’s predecessor, Artur Mas, step aside. It made defying the Spanish courts, if necessary, a condition of their support.

Support for Catalan independence dropped to 38.5 percent in March down from as high as 48.5 percent in 2013, according to survey conducted by the regional government pollster Centre d’Estudis d’Opinio.

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