The drive for greater autonomy in Catalonia has been given a boost with the announcement there will be snap elections on November 25.
The ballot is seen as a de facto referendum on President Artur Mas’s demands for greater independence for a region which accounts for a fifth of Spain’s overall output.
“I think the combination of the impressive demonstration of September 11 and the refusal to negotiate the fiscal pact, force me to be consistent with my ideas and commitments,” he said.
The Catalonia government is facing a 40-billion-euro debt and has pushed through a cuts package in health and education.
Mas had met with Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in the hope of negotiating financial concessions from central government, but came away empty handed.
From New York Rajoy gave his reaction to the news of the snap election.
“I believe in a Spain which respects the Constitution for which all Spaniards voted in 1978. It is the Constitution which we have now and is the most de-centralised in the history of our country,” he said.
The words were a reminder to the hundreds of thousands who had marched to show their support for independence on September 11 that the Constitution bars a straight referendum on the matter.
As one politician said, “it is a new crisis being added to the crisis.”