Catalonia's main two-party alliance CiU splits over Catalan independence stance

Constituent parties CDC and UDC to run separately for crucial Sep 27 election · CDC commits itself to start road to secession from Spain if pro-independence parties get absolute majority · Most UDC leaders prefer not to break up from Spain, but to reach an association deal · UDC pro-independence senior members likely to join CDC electoral list

A 37-year long joint venture that has been dominating the Catalan political scenario came today to an end after CiU senior partner CDC announced the alliance is over.

CDC (pro-independence liberals led by Catalan president Artur Mas) say they will be running for the next Catalan parliamentary election -to be held on September 27th- with an explicit commitment to start the process towards Catalonia's full independence from Spain.

CDC national coordinator Josep Rull argued today that CDC cannot longer support Catalonia to remain as one of Spain's autonomous communities: "For 35 years", he said, "CDC has insisted on the [so-called] third way," i.e. enlarged self-government for Catalonia within the framework of a federal or confederal Spain. "But that is no longer viable", Rull said, because the Spanish government and Spain's institutions do not accept such an evolution.

Rull said CiU junior partner UDC (christian democrats) does not want to join CDC in a pro-independence political project. Then the right thing for CiU to do, Rull argued, is to split and run separately for the Sep 27 election. "CiU's political project is over," Rull concluded.

In turn, UDC is internally split on the issue of independence. Most party senior members reject explicit support for Catalan independence, and want instead Catalonia to become a sort of associated state with Spain. But some UDC senior members hold pro-independence stances. They are likely to break up from the party and join CDC in a common list for the Sep 27 election.

The end of CiU is landmark news for Catalan politics. The alliance, which was established in 1978, led the Catalan government from 1980 to 2003, and again from 2010 till now. It has been the strongest list in all Catalan parliamentary elections since the end of the Franco dictatorship.

Proxy referendum, independence in 18-month time

Pro-independence parties and associations and Catalan president Mas say the September election will serve as a proxy referendum on independence given the fact that Spain has not allowed a real one to be held in spite of demands emerging from Catalonia.

CDC signed in March an 18-month roadmap to independence along with pro-independence social democrat Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), two pro-independence civil society organizations (ANC and Òmnium) and the Association of Pro-Independence Municipalities (AMI).

The roadmap says that Catalonia will start a "process towards the proclamation of a new State, or Catalan Republic" after the Sep 27 election if pro-independence parties get an absolute majority.

Besides CDC and ERC, another party (democratic socialist CUP) is also supportive of full independence for Catalonia from Spain.