MOSCOW, August 26 (RIA Novosti) - Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister of Spain, should be backed in his firm opposition to the Catalonia drive for independence German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, AFP reports.
"I can say that everything he has said in the past and which he repeats now seems very logical”, Merkel added. She also added that it was an internal matter for Spain.
The German chancellor has previously spoken against Catalonian independence. “We’re in favour of the territorial integrity of all states but that’s completely different to regions becoming independent and organising themselves,” Merkel said in July, as quoted by Reuters.
Rajoy branded the referendum that he intends to ban “nonsense”. The initiative “is hugely negative for people who live in Catalonia” and for all Spaniards, he emphasized at a joint news conference with Merkel in the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela, according to AFP.
Rajoy pointed out that further integration is the dominant global trend. “We just spoke here of banking union, of fiscal union, of creating a single European market. That is the path the world is on towards greater union and integration,” he said.
Catalonian President Artur Mas has vowed to hold a referendum on the future of the prosperous region on November 9. In a piece published in the Guardian, he argued that the ruling People’s Party was responsible for the growing “desire of the Catalonian people to put the status of their region to the test of democracy”. He added that referendum “is no elite vanity project”.
Indeed, in 2010 some parts of the law that granted Catalonia more autonomy were deemed unconstitutional. The bill was approved by the previous, socialist government, and strongly opposed by Rajoy and his party.
The decision of the Constitutional Court “hurt the self-esteem of the Catalans tremendously and led to an increase in the civil movement for independence – it spread like wildfire and within less than a year more than a million demonstrated on the streets,” Carles Boix, a Catalan and a professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton University, told the Independent.
However, the independence movement is likely to lose some of its support following recent corruption scandals involving former local leadership. Jordi Pujol, who served as Catalan president for 23 years before resigning in 2003, admitted to hiding money in a Swiss bank. His two sons are also under investigation for tax fraud, money laundering and bribery, the Economist reports.
Despite the fact that the poll in November will be unofficial and nonbinding, 80 percent of the Catalonian population (7.5 million) want it to go ahead, according to Reuters. However, the outcome is hard to predict. Polls show that Catalonians are split on the issue.
Catalonia accounts for a fifth of Spain’s economic output and many pro-referendum supporters say that breaking with the rest of Spain will grant more economic privileges to residents of the region.