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Catalonia threatens early elections over tax dispute with Madrid

Catalonia threatens early elections over tax dispute with Madrid
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Catalonia’s leader is considering calling early elections in the wealthy region, as Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy calls for national unity to combat the national debt crisis.

The head of the regional government, Artur Mas, says a fairer tax system should be implemented as the region is contributing too much to Spain as a whole. The region claims that some EUR 16 billion a year of its taxes are used to fund central government and other parts of Spain.

Madrid has refused to grant the region more tax autonomy. Mas says that this position is unacceptable.

“If the negative response to negotiating the fiscal pact is as I’ve seen today, we will have to make decisions over the next few days. Not in the next few months, but in the next few days. We haven’t gone crazy. The fact that we want to be Catalans and remain Catalans doesn’t mean we have gone crazy. Our natural affinity is with the European Union and the Euro”, he said.

More than half of Catalans say they to want break away. Polls suggest an election would give Mas and his party an absolute majority, strengthening his mandate to push for independence.