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article imageRift threatens Catalonia's separatist government

By AFP     Oct 9, 2018 in World

Catalonia's separatist government suddenly found itself with a minority in the regional parliament Tuesday as a rift between two major pro-independence parties widened, casting doubt over the executive's viability.

The rift revolved around discrepancies between the ERC and Together for Catalonia parties over how to respond to a court suspension of six jailed or exiled separatist lawmakers accused of rebellion for their role in the failed bid to break from Spain in 2017.

ERC named replacements for its two suspended lawmakers, but Together for Catalonia rejected the court decision and wanted its four regional MPs, who include former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, to keep voting in parliament.

After months of tensions, unwilling to break the law, ERC on Tuesday united with the opposition to stop the four from voting.

This loss of four lawmakers brought the number of seats belonging to the separatist camp down to 61 out of a total of 135.

This is in sharp contrast to the absolute majority of 70 seats it won in snap regional elections last December called by then Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy in response to the failed secession bid.

But cracks soon began to emerge.

The small, radical separatist CUP party first withdrew the support of its four lawmakers.

Then another separatist lawmaker in self-exile refused to delegate his vote, even if he himself was not able to cast a ballot.

And finally on Tuesday, Together for Catalonia refused to replace its four suspended lawmakers.

With separatist parties now in minority, the regional assembly rejected proposals close to the independence camp's heart, such as a symbolic proclamation of Catalonia's right to self-determination.

This has cast doubt over the viability of Catalan leader Quim Torra's executive, with the opposition calling for new regional elections.

"His government is taking on water and we're going nowhere like this," said Eva Granados, spokeswoman for the Socialist party in Catalonia's parliament.

"The only thing Torra can say is that he's resigning, dissolving parliament and calling elections," added Andrea Levy, a lawmaker for the conservative Popular Party.

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