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Catalan separatist parties will not form a coalition at December's election

Separatist mayors brandish their sticks of office in Brussels.
Separatist mayors brandish their sticks of office in Brussels. / EFE
  • Prosecutors haven't asked for the speaker of the regional parliament to be refused bail after her Supreme Court appearance on Thursday

Secessionist political parties won't form a united pro-independence coalition in the forthcoming Catalan regional elections on 21 December.

The deadline passed this week to register electoral coalitions for the vote, called by the national government as a solution to the separatist crisis that has gripped the region over the past weeks.

It had been thought that the PDECat, ERC and CUP parties might unite to form a single block along with other civil groups, however, in the end, ideological differences over the best way to pursue an independence agenda prevented agreement. In the last regional election, ERC and PDECat had formed the Junts pel Sí alliance.

The decision means that each party will stand separately at the polls, although they haven't ruled out some cooperation, and comes as opinion polls show a very close race between unionist and independence parties, mirroring closely the existing regional assembly.

Puigdemont stays in Belgium

While parties on both sides have started taking positions ahead of the December election, it still wasn't clear what the role will be of Carles Puigdemont, former regional president, and other ex-ministers who were removed when Article 155 was imposed by Madrid two weeks ago.

It is possible that Puigdemont could stand as a candidate, although he was still in Brussels this week, along with four former ministers who also failed to turn up in court last week in Madrid, where they are being investigated for offences including rebellion.

Following the issuing of an international arrest warrant, Puigdemont and the others turned themselves over to Belgian authorities last Sunday. A court there will decide on 17 November whether to extradite them to Spain. They remain free.

Meanwhile, the nine ex-regional government leaders who did turn up in the Audiencia Nacional court last week have spent the week in prisons around Madrid, except one, Santi Villa, who was allowed out on bail.

Appearing in the Supreme Court on Thursday in a similar investigation was Catalan parliament speaker, Carme Forcadell, and five regional MPs responsible for parliamentary business. These have not been removed from their posts and their hearing was delayed from last week.

Reports said that, unlike the former ministers last week, the group on Thursday had cooperated by answering investigating judge's questions and, as a result, the prosecution was said not to be insisting on them being held without bail.

Reports on Thursday said that all the cases of the different officials could be brought under a single investigating judge in the Supreme Court in the near future and that those in prison while inquires continue could be allowed out if they promised to abide by the Constitution.

Mayors charter a jet

Some 200 pro-independence mayors from Catalonia chartered a plane to Belgium on Tuesday to show support for Carles Puigdemont in Brussels. Although no officials received them, they took part in a rally with Puigdemont in which each one brandished their stick of office as a sign of defiance and support.

Puigdemont said in a letter published on Thursday that he was going to create “a stable structure” to “coordinate the actions of the [dismissed] regional government”.

A general strike on Wednesday in Catalonia, in protest at the detentions, caused disruption with demonstrators on roads and railway stations however the main trade unions did not support the industrial action.