Spain's Catalonia to hold regional vote September 27 amid independence drive

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 14, 2015 3:21 PM

MADRID (Reuters) - The wealthy Spanish region of Catalonia will hold an election for its regional parliament on September 27, a vote the main parties want to use as a proxy for a referendum on independence opposed by Madrid.

The date, announced at a news conference by the head of the northeastern regional government Artur Mas on Wednesday, is a few months before Spain's general election and reignites the deeply divisive issue of Catalonia's status within or without Spain.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has taken a hard line on secessionist ambitions in the region, which accounts for one fifth of Spain's economic output.

The vote will be held on Catalonia's national day, and will not include a joint list of candidates from the two main parties in favor of independence -- Mas's Convergencia (Convergence) and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (The Republican Left of Catalonia).

"We will run with different (candidate) lists but with a common national road map," Mas said.

The Catalan regional vote had been due no later than 2016.

Catalonia defied Madrid to go ahead with a symbolic secession vote on Nov. 9 and Artur Mas subsequently raised the prospect of early elections to further the independence cause.

A majority of people in Catalonia would vote to stay part of Spain, a poll by the regional government showed in December, the first in years to show a majority against independence but by a very slim margin.

(Reporting By Elisabeth O'Leary; Editing by Robert Hetz)