Catalonia president promises 2017 independence referendum

FRENCH PRESS AGENCY - AFP
BARCELONA
Published 28.09.2016 00:00
Updated 28.09.2016 19:23
People hold Catalan separatist flags known as Esteladas during a gathering to mark the Catalonia day Diada in central Barcelona, Spain, September 11, 2016. (REUTERS Photo)
People hold Catalan separatist flags known as "Esteladas" during a gathering to mark the Catalonia day "Diada" in central Barcelona, Spain, September 11, 2016. (REUTERS Photo)

The president of Spain's Catalonia region on Wednesday said he would call a Scotland-style independence referendum in September 2017, in a move likely to infuriate Madrid.

"We will look for an agreement (with the central government) until the very end, we will at every moment work with the will to hold a referendum in agreement with the state," Carles Puigdemont told regional lawmakers.

"But if we come to the end of our term in office and there has been no positive response, we will be ready to... call a referendum for the second half of September of next year."

Secessionist parties approved a plan to achieve independence in mid-2017 after winning a clear majority in regional elections last year, but have since become divided by ideological differences and little progress has been made.

The pro-independence coalition ruling Catalonia broke down in June when its most radical component -- the far-left CUP party -- refused to back the government budget for 2016, forcing Puigdemont to call a vote of confidence which takes place Thursday.

The CUP had since said it would help bring the pro-independence coalition back together and vote for Puigdemont, but only in exchange for a Scotland-style referendum next year.

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