divendres, de setembre 14, 2012


High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/23b62668-fcdf-11e1-ba37-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz26R2n5SnT Catalonia separatism comes under attack By Tony Barber in Madrid Conservative political allies of Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s prime minister, attacked rising separatist sentiment in Catalonia and blamed it for complicating the national government’s efforts to avert a debt-driven economic disaster. “Now is not the time for pro-independence adventures. What is lacking is the unity of political forces needed to get out of the crisis,” Alicia Sánchez-Comacho, leader of the Catalan branch of Mr Rajoy’s ruling Popular party, said on Wednesday. More On this story Crisis fuels Catalan independence push Rajoy stance sets stage for EU stand-off Video Analysis Review - The eurozone fragments Video ECB must spend, spend, spend to defend plan Barroso calls for EU ‘federation’ On this topic Catalonia heightens Spanish debt fears The wonders of wandering Catalonia demands new deal from Spain Catalonia to sell bonds again as crisis deepens IN Europe EU relieved by Dutch election result Rutte retains power in Dutch elections Concordia operator denies alleged failings IMF endorses Portugal’s financing plans She was speaking one day after Barcelona staged what many participants termed the biggest pro-independence demonstration seen in the Catalan capital since Spain replaced its Francoist dictatorship with a democratic, decentralised political system in the late 1970s. Estimates of the crowd size ranged from 600,000 to 1.5m people. Catalonia’s total population is about 7.5m. The surge in Catalan separatism coincides with pressure on Mr Rajoy to decide whether to request an emergency financial rescue from Spain’s European partners to help the nation through a time of recession and acute stress in debt markets and the banking system. Catalan nationalists contend that their region is experiencing disproportionate levels of hardship in the crisis, because its relative prosperity requires it to transfer up to 9 per cent of its gross domestic product each year to Madrid. Their main short-term objective is to gain more control over taxation policy, a demand that is fuelled by the suspicion that the Popular party is seeking to exploit the crisis to reassert the central government’s authority over Spain’s regions. “If we cannot reach a financial agreement, the road to freedom for Catalonia is open,” Artur Mas, Catalonia’s president, said on Tuesday. Ms Sánchez-Camacho lashed out at these remarks, saying: “Mas committed a grave error. He is leading us into a very dangerous process in which civic and social co-existence will be ruptured [in Catalonia].” Mr Rajoy is unwilling to bow to the Catalan demands, which he sees fundamentally as a distraction from the bigger issue of the terms on which Spain might ask for international financial help. However, the premier is not hostile to the principle of Catalan autonomy, a core feature of Spanish life since the adoption of the 1978 constitution. He also appears determined to lower the political temperature before he meets Mr Mas for discussions on September 20. In this spirit Mr Rajoy gave a guarded reaction to Tuesday’s demonstrations, commenting: “If there were ever a moment when it’s necessary for us to work together, it is now.” He observed pointedly that Catalonia, like Spain itself, is suffering from mass unemployment, high budget deficits and debt refinancing difficulties. The relatively moderate Mr Rajoy faces a delicate balancing act in that some of his Popular party colleagues argue that the Madrid government ought to speak out more strongly in favour of national unity in order to reassure pro-Spanish elements in Catalan society. They are frustrated at the success of Mr Mas and other Catalan politicians in portraying recent cuts in regional government expenditure as the fault of Madrid.