POST TIME: 4 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Spanish PM proposes referendum for Catalonia

Spanish PM proposes 
referendum for Catalonia

MADRID: Spain's prime minister yesterday proposed holding a referendum in Catalonia on greater autonomy for the wealthy region but ruled out allowing a vote on independence as demanded by Catalan leaders, reports AFP.

Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who since coming to power in June has attempted to defuse tensions over Catalonia's independence drive by holding talks with Catalonia's separatist president Quim Torra, told radio Cadena Ser the dialogue should lead to "a vote... on the reinforcement of Catalonia's autonomy".

"It is a referendum for autonomy, not for autodetermination," he added, without giving a timeline for the proposed vote.

Catalonia, which has its own distinct language, was granted autonomy under Spain's 1978 constitution adopted three years after the death of longtime dictator Francisco Franco.

In 2006, a statute granting even greater powers to the northwestern region, boosting its financial clout, was approved by the Spanish and Catalan parliaments. And in a referendum at the time, over 73 percent of voters in Catalonia approved it.

But in 2010 Spain's Constitutional Court struck down several articles of the charter, among them attempts to place the distinctive Catalan language above Spanish in the region and a clause describing the region as a "nation".

The ruling sparked a rise in support for independence in Catalonia, which is home to some 7.5 million people and accounts for about one fifth of the Spanish economy.