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Catalonian elections: Madrid is bad, austerity is worse (+video)

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What next for referendum?  

CiU admitted its go-it-alone project failed and called for ERC’s support to call for a referendum. “One thing is to have the right to decide, and another is” an independent state, Mr. Mas said following the elections. “With these results, we will have to continue working.”

ERC, though, had already said their price for support will be high: Mas would have to reverse many of his austerity policies, and he will have to commit himself to a multiparty path to independence, any of which would be hard to do in this juncture.

Exit polls suggested that while the majority of Catalonians appear to support independence, an even bigger majority rejects Mas’s economic and social policies, which have severely punished the region's prized health and educational systems.

Voters appeared to back the Spanish central government’s thesis that Mas moved up elections two months ago as a political ploy to use the passionate nationalism issue to divert attention off the unpopular austerity measures of Catalonia’s government – which are in addition to the central government’s own policies.

Indeed, most analysts in Spain and in Europe gave very little chances of any formal secession process prospering, one that would start with holding a referendum. In Spain, many Basques have also long sought an independent state, but regional leaders have stopped short of challenging the central government as Mas has.

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