Catalan government’s partner in the secessionist drive, the small anti-capitalist CUP party, on Tuesday confirmed that its preferred candidate to head the region following the September 27 election is not acting premier Artur Mas.
As expected, CUP leaders are refusing to support a figure whom they see as the embodiment of corruption and social cuts in Catalonia. Instead, they are backing Raül Romeva, an independent who ran as the top candidate for the Junts pel Si coalition, which includes Mas’s own Democratic Convergence party (CDC) and the Catalan Republican Left (ERC).
CUP regional deputy Benet Salellas on Tuesday confirmed that his party prefers Romeva over both Mas and his deputy, Neus Munté, whose name has been mentioned as a possible replacement for the premier, who wants a new term in office as the driving force behind the separatist movement.
In an interview on Catalunya Ràdio, Salellas said the anti-capitalist left considers Romeva “a consensus candidate.”
“He was number one on the Junts pel Sí list and he is an independent,” said Salellas, whose party is playing the role of kingmaker in Catalonia after Mas’ coalition failed to secure enough parliamentary seats for an overall majority.
But Romeva immediately replied that his name is not under consideration “at this moment.”
“At this time there is no doubt in anybody’s mind who the candidate for Junts pel Sí is,” said Romeva. Later, through his Twitter account, Romeva added that “I am not a candidate. My role is to work towards an agreement.”
Although Romeva ran in the first spot on the list of Junts pel Si candidates, with Mas’s name in fourth place, it was commonly assumed that the premier would seek to renew his position in the event of a victory at the polls.
Analysts have said that Mas deliberately ran fourth, leaving the first three spots to independent candidates, to avoid giving voters the feeling that Junts pel Sí was just another name for CDC, which is the target of several major corruption investigations.
The CDC’s involvement in graft probes has been one of the main stumbling blocks in Mas’ bid to get reinstated as Catalan premier.