Spanish Prime Minster Pedro Sánchez on Monday proposed holding a referendum on greater autonomy for Catalonia but ruled out allowing a vote on independence.
He told Cadena SER radio that the dialogue he is encouraging between Madrid and Catalonia should lead to a vote “on the reinforcement of Catalonia’s autonomy,” El País reported.
“It is a referendum for autonomy, not for auto-determination,” he added, but didn’t give a timeline for any vote.
After taking office in June, Sánchez indicated his government would take a less confrontational stance toward Catalan separatists, while remaining opposed to independence for the region. He has since held talks with Catalonia’s president Quim Torra in a bid to defuse tensions between the two sides following last year’s illegal independence referendum, which Madrid used harsh tactics to suppress.
In 2006, a statute granting greater powers to the region was approved by the Spanish and Catalan parliaments. In a referendum, more than 70 percent of voters in Catalonia approved the deal. However, in 2010 Spain’s Constitutional Court struck down several parts of the statute, a move that led to a rise in support for independence.