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Financial Times advises to “give some ground and negotiate” with Catalonia

Pro-independence parties have “achieved” their goal in “winning 72 of the 135” seats in the Catalan Parliament, stated an editorial in the Financial Times published this Tuesday. The British business daily insisted that once Spain has held national elections at the end of this year, a new government in Madrid needs to enter into talks with President Mas, to “find a third way between independence and the status quo”. However, the editorial is titled “Catalonia needs to step back from the brink”, since it puts forward the idea that Mas has “less legitimacy to implement his plan” considering that the percentage of voters who supported a clear ‘yes’ for independence was less than 50%.

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29 September 2015 03:45 PM

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ACN / Shobha Prabhu-Naik

Barcelona (CNA).- The business daily the Financial Times warned this Tuesday that Madrid “cannot ignore the strength of secessionist sentiment” in Catalonia and that Spain’s government must “give some ground” and “negotiate” with the new Catalan Parliament. However, the editorial also stated that the poll didn’t constitute a binding referendum and Mas does not have any “legal right to commence his programme for secession”, considering that less than 50% of voters supported a clear ‘yes’ to independence. The British newspaper added that Catalonia’s pro-independence leaders were “entitled to use these regional elections to test the appetite of their people” for a break with Spain and emphasised the need to “negotiate” with one of Spain’s wealthiest regions, as Catalonia accounts “for 20 per cent of Spanish GDP”.


The British newspaper acknowledged that the Spanish government “has refused to allow Catalans to hold an in-out plebiscite” along the lines of the one that the UK government permitted in Scotland last year. Whilst it has not been prepared to do this, once Spain has held national elections at the end of this year, the Financial Times stated that a new government in Madrid “needs to enter into talks with Mr Mas to find a third way” between what it terms as “independence” and the “status quo”. Madrid can no longer “ignore the strength of secessionist sentiment” it warned.

‘Junts pel Sí’ is neither “unified” nor “coherent”

The newspaper also drew conclusions from the 27-S elections that took place this Sunday where for the first time, the main pro-independence parties formed a single electoral list under the name ‘Junts pel Sí’ (Together for Yes), pledging to set up a separate state if they were to receive more than half the seats in the Barcelona assembly. The cross-party coalition made up of liberal party CDC, left-wing, pro-independence ERC and the main civic organisations supporting independence, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural, put aside their ideological interests to reduce the elections to the single issue of independence and according to the Financial Times “achieved that goal”, winning 62 of the 135 seats contested.

However, the editorial stated that the fact that independence parties did not obtain 50% of the vote meant that “in the most high-profile consultation on Catalan independence so far, they fell short of winning the overall majority that would be needed in a proper referendum”.

Moreover, the piece found the nationalist camp to be neither “unified” nor “coherent” since ‘Junts pel Sí’ is made up of current President of the Generalitat, Artur Mas’ party with a pro-European agenda but has relied on alternative left and radical independence CUP for a majority in parliament. The far-left movement wants to quit the EU, the Eurozone and NATO and such “rival visions for an independent Catalan nation will not easily be reconciled” insisted the editorial.

The limits of fiscal devolution

The Financial Times acknowledged that Madrid "could meet some of the economic requests" made by pro-independence forces in Catalonia especially considering that Catalonia is one of Spain’s wealthiest regions, “accounting for 20 per cent of Spanish GDP”. However, it was apprehensive about “how far” fiscal devolution can go. Whilst some consideration could be given to pro-independence demands and more economic devolution for Catalonia, the editorial argued that most EU nations — and indeed the Eurozone itself — operate on the principle that there is “a transfer of funds from richer regions to poorer ones” and suggested that if every wealthy region in the euro area were to follow the Catalan example “the entire bloc would soon unravel”.

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  • Financial Times editorial on 27-S results

  • Financial Times editorial on 27-S results