The Catalan government collapses because of the split between the separatists

Catalonia’s ruling coalition fell apart on Friday night when disagreement over how hard to push independence led one member of the alliance to resign in disgust.

The future of government in one of Spain’s economic powerhouses was put in question by the move, but the region’s president dismissed the possibility of new elections and vowed to rule in the minority.

The vote to leave the coalition cemented a rift within the pro-independence movement, which was unified by a contentious referendum on secession in 2017 but has since been fragmented over disputes over how to keep fighting.

The trigger for the split was United for Catalonia, the junior coalition partner whose members voted 56% to 42% to leave because they believed Catalonia’s President Pere Aragonès was not doing enough for separatism.

Laura Borras, President of Together, which has an uncompromising stance on secession, said after the vote that Aragonès had “lost democratic legitimacy” and had failed to lead the coalition.

“We will work to revive independence,” she said. “Not only have members decided to leave government, but we want to regain direction in this country.”

Aragonès, a moderate pro-independence supporter who angered Together by speaking to the central government to resolve differences, said: “Citizens are not served by relinquishing responsibilities. We will not let the public down in complicated times like these.”

He said he would announce a new government line-up in the coming days.

The referendum five years ago, rejected by Madrid and declared illegal by Spain’s top court, sparked the country’s worst political crisis in decades.

Pedro Sánchez, Spain’s Prime Minister, who has taken part in talks with Aragonès, said on Friday: “In these difficult and complex times, the stability of governments is crucial. . . I like stability, in this case the government of Catalonia.”

Aragonès’ Catalan Republican Left (ERC) controls just 33 seats out of 135 in the regional parliament, leaving it with an uphill battle to pass legislation, including a new budget to deal with the cost of living crisis.

“We continue to rule by trying to build alliances to move the country forward,” Aragonès said.

Together’s leadership was also divided on whether to leave the government, reflecting the subtle nuances of opinion within the pro-independence movement.

Aragonès and other political leaders have previously signaled that they believe inflation and the energy crisis are the wrong timing for snap elections.

The coalition crisis began last week when Aragonès sacked his vice-president Jordi Puigneró, Together’s most senior figure in government, after the party threatened a vote of confidence in him.

Together responded by calling a vote of its members Thursday and Friday on its future.

In the 2017 independence vote, the Catalan government said 90 percent of the 2.3 million votes cast were pro-independence, but only about 40 percent of eligible voters turned out.

The latest polls show that a majority of Catalans don’t want to part ways with Spain. According to a poll by the Center d’Estudis d’Opinió, the official Catalan polling institute, in September, 52 percent of the people were against independence and 41 percent were in favor. The Catalan government collapses because of the split between the separatists

Adam Bradshaw

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