Catalans want independence referendum in 2014: poll

MADRID Sun Dec 15, 2013 6:44am EST

1 of 2. A black ribbon is seen on a Spanish flag at a balcony in Barcelona December 13, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Albert Gea

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MADRID (Reuters) - The majority of Catalans want the right to decide on independence in a referendum and believe Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy should authorize such a vote, a poll showed on Sunday.

Last week separatist parties in Spain's Catalonia region set November 9, 2014 as the date for a proposed independence referendum, a vote the Spanish government opposes and says goes against the constitution.

But 74 percent of Catalans believe they should be given a say over their relationship with Spain, showed a GESOP poll, based on interviews with 800 people and published in Catalan newspaper El Periodico.

Calls for independence in Catalonia, a wealthy industrial region of northeastern Spain which accounts for a fifth of the country's economic output, have grown during Spain's prolonged economic recession and cuts in public spending.

The 2014 referendum would ask two questions: "Do you want Catalonia to be a state?" and "Do you want that state to be independent?"

A separate Sigma Dos poll published in Spain's right-leaning El Mundo newspaper on Sunday showed that 43 percent of Catalans would vote "yes" to Catalonia becoming a state and of that amount, 82 percent would want the state to be independent.

But extrapolating from these numbers, based on interviews with 1,000 people, El Mundo said only 35 percent of Catalans would vote for full independence from Spain.

The result was similar to another GESOP poll in El Periodico on Saturday which showed support for separatism under 50 percent.

Both polls were carried out between December 12 - when separatist parties announced the referendum date - and December 13.

The Catalan government has been talking about a possible independence vote since late last year, stirring a heated political debate and making headlines on the front pages of the country's newspapers.

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; editing by Ralph Boulton)

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