Spain braces for Catalonia elections as campaigning comes to an end

Ousted leader campaigning from Belgium, plots comeback

Political parties for and against Catalonia’s independence from Spain are making a final bid to convince voters as campaigning for regional election comes to an end. Recent polls have predicted a hung parliament.

Thursday’s election is being held after it was ordered by the Spanish government after it seized control of the region, sacked its leader and cabinet, and dissolved the regional parliament following a declaration of independence by lawmakers.

Read related story: Poll reveals how only one in seven Catalan see standoff with Madrid ending in home rule

An alliance between ousted leader Carles Puigdemont’s party and Esquerra Republicana broke down last month. Oriol Junqueras, Esquerra’s leader and Catalonia’s former vice president, remains in jail in Madrid along with three other leading separatists.

Puigdemont, along with other cabinet ministers, has been campaigning from Brussels where they have sought refuge from Spanish justice while others are in jail in Spain on provisional rebellion charges.Puigdemont also spoke to media yesterday and targeted Spanish reign of “repression and fear” against the Catalan people.

Meanwhile, in reply to Reuters, Catalan’s deposed Junqueras stated that he would continue to pursue independence if he became Catalonia’s next president, but also “build bridges and shake hands” with representatives of the Spanish state.

“I can assure you that we are democrats before we are separatists and that the aim (of gaining independence) does not always justify the means,” he said in comments that appeared to drop his party’s earlier demand for unilateral secession.


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