13
Jan

Catalonia’s new president

Written on January 13, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Democracy & Human Rights

ARTUR MAS, who over five years as president of Catalonia led the region’s drive for independence, stepped down over the weekend after failing to form a government. His successor, Carles Puigdemont, is an even more fervent secessionist. In a speech in 2013 he vowed, quoting a Catalan journalist executed under the dictator Francisco Franco, that “the invaders will be expelled from Catalonia”—referring to the Spanish government. Indeed, it was Mr Puigdemont’s longstanding commitment to independence, which much of his centre-right Catalan Democratic Convergence (CDC) party has only embraced in recent years, that enabled him to form a government where Mr Mas had failed. It won him the trust of the far-left Popular Unity Candidacies (CUP) party, whose members had blocked the re-election of the pro-business Mr Mas but apparently consider Mr Puigdemont a more trustworthy radical.

Three months after elections were held, Catalonia’s independence movement now has control of the region’s government. But that control has come at a cost to the secessionists’ image. For years, the separatist movement has successfully sold itself as cool, kind and progressive. Backers of continued union with Spain were scorned as reactionaries, or even the inheritors of Franco’s legacy. Now, senior members of the independence movement worry that it will be identified with the CUP, whose raised fists and chaotic assemblies frighten conservative, middle-class Catalans. Mr Puigdemont’s CDC has traditionally represented a reassuring sense of order. The small but newly powerful CUP represents radical change on all fronts. Read more…

 

Posted in the Economist on Jan. 11th, 2016; http://www.economist.com/

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