BASQUE AND CATALAN NATIONALISTS SPEAK UP

Some 30% of Basques oppose independence from Spain, according to a survey carried out for the Basque Country government, in advance of the referendum which its president, Juan José Ibarretxe, insists will take place in October. Just over 20% said they wanted independence and another 32% said they would make up their minds just before the referendum. Only 1% said the political situation in the Basque Country was “very good”, while nearly half said it was “bad” and 12% said it was “very bad”. Meanwhile, in Catalonia, the leader of the Convergencia Party, Artur Mas, said Catalans “didn’t owe the government anything”. He said: “If the socialists don’t fulfil their promises to Catalonia, Convergencia is not obliged to support them.” Observers said it was his way of warning the prime minister that the days of his party’s collaboration with the central government were over. Convergencia is a moderate nationalist party which in the past has kept a distance from the region’s more radical nationalists.

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