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Artur Mas replaced as Catalunya's presidential candidate to ease negotiations
thinkSPAIN , Sunday, January 10, 2016

CATALUNYA'S regional government has broken its deadlock and avoided a second election by replacing existing president, Artur Mas, as candidate in order to form a coalition.

Mas (pictured), number four on the pro-independence party Junts pel Sí ('together for yes'), led by Raúl Romeva, had refused to budge when fellow secessionist party CUP said they would only join forces to form a regional government if Mas did not continue as president.

But a meeting between both parties has led to mayor of Girona and chairman of the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI), Carles Puigdemont, being put forward as president of Catalunya.

All that is needed now is for the majority to vote for his being invested regional president at the in-house elections.

CUP and Junts pel Sí together mean the regional government being led by an outright majority in favour of Catalunya's secession from Spain.

Although Mas says the decision is 'very disappointing', he admits it was he who proposed Puigdemont as candidate when the CUP and Junts pel Sí hit stalemate in their coalition negotiations.

From tomorrow [Sunday] afternoon, if the Parliament of Catalunya elects someone other than me as president, I will become ex-president of the [regional] government,” Mas announced.

He said he was 'willing to work alongside' regional institutions and has not ruled out the possibility of running for president in future elections, but has decided to step aside and leave Catalunya's government altogether.

We had reached a deadlock in the last three months, causing many things to deteriorate in our negotiations – this country [Catalunya] lacked perspective at a time when we had had practically everything else we needed.

I'm going to step aside and am not going to stand as candidate – neither will I form part of the new government of Catalunya – Mas doesn't want any responsibilities,” the hitherto regional president said of himself.

The CUP has pledged, as part of its agreement with Junts pel Sí, never to vote in line with any of the other regional Parliament parties who are against Catalunya's independence.

Two of the 10 MPs from the CUP will move across to Junts pel Sí, giving the latter greater weight and 'more stability' in Mas' words.

Other factors of the agreement between the two pro-secession parties include the CUP 's 'admitting its mistakes', especially in terms of its 'belligerance towards Junts pel Sí', which must include some MPs being 'replaced' or 'redistributed'.

Puigdemont has been MP for the now-defunct party Convergence and Union (CiU), which Mas used to head up until Convergence split with Union and the former amalgamated with other, smaller, pro-independence outfits.

Having been MP for the party since 2006 and become mayor of Girona in 2011 – after standing unsuccessfully for the post in 2007 – Puigdemont was named chairman of AMI in July 2015.

He was candidate number three for Junts pel Sí in the regional elections on September 27.

We have a plan under way, a well-oriented and solid plan,” Puigdemont tweeted after his candidature was agreed.

We're all being called to take part in it, we're all needed. Thank you, president, for leading and persevering,” he concluded, addressing this final statement to Mas.

Mas and Puigdemont received a hero's welcome when they stood side by side in the doorway of their headquarters yesterday (Saturday) evening following the final meeting between Junts pel Sí and the CUP.



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