The prime minister of Spain has called early general elections for late April, the third such ballot in less than four years in an increasingly fragmented partisan landscape and with Catalonia’s independence push dominating the political debate.
By Joseph Wilson and cross-posted from the Miami Herald
The secession crisis festering in Spain’s northeastern corner of Catalonia has spread to the political heart of the European Union nation.
Twice in less than a year, separatist lawmakers from Catalonia have played the role of king slayer, with their votes in the national Parliament in Madrid proving the decisive push to topple consecutive governments.
Catalan separatists momentarily aligned with their political nemeses this week by joining Spain’s right-wing parties to kill the Socialist government’s spending bill, after talks between the government and the separatists collapsed over the possibility of a referendum on secession.
The failure to pass a national spending bill led Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Friday to call an early election for April 28.
This latest blow to Spain’s political stability came eight months after the same separatist Catalan lawmakers backed the Socialists in a no-confidence vote to oust the then conservative government of the Popular Party.
“We made Pedro Sanchez prime minister as a result of the no-confidence vote for the exact same reasons that we have had to maintain our position (against) his budget bill,” said Eduard Pujol, a leading member in Catalonia’s regional legislature. “You cannot govern Spain without listening to Catalonia.”
Separatists forces showed their strength on Saturday when tens of thousands rallied in Barcelona to demand a non-guilty verdict for 12 of their leaders, who are on trial in Spain’s Supreme Court for their roles in a failed secession attempt in 2017. Barcelona’s police calculated that 200,000 people joined the march.
The front line of marchers held a long banner saying in Catalan “self-determination is not a crime”…