Catalonia starts 2017 making headlines in a crunch political year

Paper lanterns in Vic show the separatist Catalonian flag.
Paper lanterns in Vic show the separatist Catalonian flag. / EFE
  • Controversy as televised Three Kings parade sells pro-independence lanterns and regional premier restates his plan to stage banned succession referendum

The increasingly complicated political situation in Catalonia was brought to the fore this week with headlines across Spain drawing attention to ruling regional politicians' plans to hold a referendum on independence in September .

A referendum is banned under the Spanish constitution and national conservative prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has steadfastly refused to negotiate on the subject.

In a radio interview, Carles Puigdemont, Catalonian primer minister, restated that he was on track to follow his 'route map' that foresees a referendum, followed by a declaration of independence and new Catalonian elections. Ana Colau, mayor of Barcelona, Catalonia's capital, expressed concern about the process, urging Puigdemont to ensure the referendum was recognised "by the Spanish state and internationally".

Offending festive lanterns

There were splits even among pro-independence politicians over the decision by leaders in Vic, a town outside Barcelona, to allow festive lanterns with the outline of the separatist Catalonian flag to be sold on the street for the Three Kings parade. Last night's event was due to be broadcast live on TV3, the regional television station.

Some pro-independence parties have distanced themselves from the lanterns, claiming that separatists needed to work to "harmonise the country's common thinking so that everyone feels represented".