October 22, 2019 / 6:43 PM / 23 days ago

Catalan leader hopes November 10 election to boost independence drive

Catalan leader Quim Torra gestures during an interview with Reuters at the Palau de la Generalitat in Barcelona, Spain October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Catalonia’s secessionist movement aims to get over 50% of the region’s vote in a Nov. 10 Spanish election after mass protests over the jailing of nine separatists, which would strengthen its push for independence, the regional government head told Reuters on Tuesday.

“It’s obvious that the goal is to surpass the 50% (of support for pro-independence parties) and, if possible, in the next Spanish parliamentary (elections),” Quim Torra said in an interview at his government palace in Barcelona, calling the independence process “irreversible.”

Catalan separatist parties have fallen short of 50% of the vote in recent elections, although they still hold the majority of seats in the Catalan parliament after garnering 47.5% in 2017’s regional election.

Torra reiterated his call for talks with Madrid to start as soon as possible on an independence referendum in Spain’s most economically important region.

Asked about the possibility of such a plebiscite being held without Spain’s consent, Torra said he was seeking a wide agreement among Catalan parties on a road map towards the region’s independence, so no options were ruled out.

The wealthy northeastern region was rocked by nine consecutive nights of protests after nine Catalan separatist leaders were convicted of sedition for leading a failed 2017 bid for independence that included holding a banned referendum.

Reporting by Joan Faus in Barcelona; Writing by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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