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Catalans continue independence push

Catalonia's president Artur Mas says Catalans want the same chance as Scots who were given the right to vote for independence.

The regional president said he was hoping for a Yes vote in Scotland but insisted that the result of the referendum, with Scotland deciding to remain part of the UK, was "not a setback".

"What happened in Scotland and the United Kingdom is not a setback for us because what we really want in Catalonia is to have the chance to vote, the same possibility," he told reporters.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has repeatedly said he will block a vote for Catalans in the wealthy north eastern region of 7.5 million people.

The Catalan parliament is expected to debate and approve by a wide margin a measure giving Mr Mas the power to call a referendum despite vows by Spain's prime minister Mariano Rajoy to block planned a vote on November 9.

He said he would then sign a decree authorising the Catalonia referendum, but did not say when.

Retired hospital director and economist Lluis Enric Florenca was disappointed with the outcome of the Scotland vote and "would have liked the Yes to have won because we would have seen how Europe would have reacted" to a new nation outside of the European Union that would have most likely wanted to rejoin.

But he said Scottish voters got a victory by getting their vote and settling the question of whether they wanted independence or not.

"If we win in Catalonia, all the better," Mr Florenca said. "If we lose, then at least we know once and for all. What bothers me are the doubts."

Mr Rajoy did not mention the situation in Catalonia in his response to Scotland's vote, but congratulated "Scottish citizens who yesterday decided in a clear an unequivocal manner to continue being part of the United Kingdom, and consequently, the European Union".

Spain's constitution does not allow referendums that do not include all Spaniards and experts say Spain's Constitutional Court would rule the vote illegal if Rajoy's administration heads there to have the Catalan vote declared illegal.

Unlike the Scotland vote, the referendum in Catalonia would not result in secession. It would ask Catalans whether they favour secession. If the answer is Yes, Mr Mas has said that would give him a political mandate to negotiate a path toward independence.

Despite sharing cultural traits with the rest of Spain, many Catalans take pride in the deep differences based on their language, which is spoken side-by-side with Spanish in the economically important region that is key to helping Spain emerge from its financial crisis.

Polls indicate Catalans are roughly evenly split on independence - but that figure drops significantly when people are asked if they favour an independent Catalonia outside the European Union.

Italy's secession-minded Northern League party sent observers to Scotland in the hope of sharing in a Yes victory that would have boosted the league's own push for greater autonomy for Italy's northern Veneto and Lombard regions.

These regions, home to some of Italy's financial powerhouses, resent that so much of their tax euros are diverted by the federal government in Rome to be spent on Italy's poorer south.

"We had hoped for a victory of the 'yes' votes, but at least the Scots went to the polls," said Matteo Mognaschi, one of the League observers in Edinburgh. "They won't even let us vote here."


From Belfast Telegraph