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New Catalan Premier In Deal With Socialists

Source: AP / El Pais - Fri 24th Dec 2010

Artur Mas yesterday took office as the President of the Catalan Region by vuirtue of his own coalition party's votes and the abstention of the Catalan Socialist party (PSC), who were ousted from government in recent regional elections. This move was made possible by means of a deal made between the CiU nationalist bloc and the PSC, an agreement which will now take precedence in all the major decisions that need to be reached during the coming term.

The results of the vote were 62 in favor, 45 against and 28 abstentions.

The incumbent Mas praised the outgoing Socialist Josť Montilla, for his "high institutional sense." He spoke to the house to say how he felt "honored" at his new responsibility.

"I want to be a premier who is useful, loyal and in love with his country," It is third time lucky for Mas, after previous attempts that the Nationalist has run in regional elections.

On answering questions about the CiU's pact with the PSC, Mas commented that "this is not a governance pact, and it does not guarantee stability for the four upcoming years." The new leader emphasised that he was open to negotiations with other political groups.

The president of the Socialist group in the regional parliament, Joaquim Nadal, confirmed that the agreement was merely an investiture deal, not one seeking parliamentary stability. Despite being defeated in elections, the Socialists backed Mas in order to "to help Catalonia," Nadal noted.

The final document that will allow the process states that all major issues will be decided "on the basis of consensus" between CiU and Socialists, and that any "reform of the statutory and constitutional frameworks will be tackled from a position of consensus between at least these two political groups." Mas has said he wants greater economic independence from Madrid, similar to the arrangement with the Basque Country.

The conservative Popular Party reproached CiU for reaching a deal with the main ruling party from the previous government, despite running on a slogan of change.

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