Catalonia calls a snap regional election, adding to Spain’s political uncertainty

Catalan President Pere Aragones has called a snap election on May 12 after his minority government failed to pass a budget for the wealthy region in northeast Spain.

“On May 12, Catalan citizens will choose between responsibility or irresponsibility,” Aragones said in a televised address on Wednesday, accusing the parties that opposed his budget proposal as “irresponsible”.

Voters will go called to the polls to elect the autonomous region’s new parliament, with all its 135 seats up for election.

Their decision could have significant consequences for Spain’s national politics, withPrime Minister Pedro Sanchez currently relying on Catalan separatist parties to approve laws in the national parliament.

Aragones’ announcement came on the eve of a vote in Spain’s national parliament on a controversial amnesty law that could pardon hundreds of leaders and supporters of the separatist movement – including those involved in the region’s unsuccessful attempt to declare independence from Spain in 2017.

While some see the bill as outrageously lenient toward those who provoked one of the country’s biggest crises since the death of General Francisco Franco in 1975, Sanchez and his party are expected to back the amnesty law on Thursday.

The regional election had to be held before the end of the current legislative year, and  was initially scheduled for February 2025. The 2017 Catalan regional elections were held in December, while the 2021 ones were held in February.

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