By Mick Krever, CNN
From Scotland to South Sudan, Crimea to Donetsk, independence referendums (legal or not) are in vogue.
And for Artur Mas, president of the Spanish region of Catalonia, the desire is just as strong.
“Catalonia was born one thousand years ago. We have a long history behind us,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on the day Spain inaugurated its new king, Felipe VI.
“We have found a lot of different obstacles, problems, difficulties and so on. And we have always tried to overcome.”
“Now it is the right time for the referendum in Catalonia to go on and to go ahead. And our way to do that will be absolutely peaceful – and this is not the case in Ukraine – and also absolutely democratic.”
Catalonia’s referendum, due to be held in November, is one of the biggest challenges facing Spain’s new monarch.
Unlike the UK, where the national government has approved Scotland’s upcoming referendum on independence, Madrid has not … In April, Spanish parliament rejected a Catalan petition to be able to hold its referendum.
“Two things can happen. The first one is a reaction, a moderate reaction of the Spanish government tolerating the referendum in Catalonia. That would be the best-case scenario.”
“The worst-case scenario would be that just after I call the referendum in November, the Spanish government sends to the constitutional court the referendum, and the constitutional court would have the possibility to revoke it.”
King Felipe VI has only “non-executive powers,” Mas said; but clearly the monarch, as head of state, wields significant influence.
“I have met the new king several times. I have a cordial relationship with him, although we have not talked deeply about the current problem between Catalonia and Spain. So I hope that I will have the opportunity in the near future to talk to him in … in a more calm way.”
There has been talk that Felipe VI would travel to Catalonia – of which Barcelona is the capital – as one of his first acts.
“We would appreciate it. We would appreciate his mediation and his help. And I'm sure that he will try to do something in order to work out the solution.”
Scotland holds its independence referendum just two months before Catalonia; the outcome of that vote could have big consequences on the Catalan initiative.
If Scots vote in favor of independence, Mas said, “it would affect in a positive way” Catalonia’s effort. Scotland would have to negotiate terms of membership with the European Union, setting some precedent for Catalonia.
“What we know for certain is that there is a huge majority for the referendum” – that is, most support holding the vote.
What is much more up in the air is whether it will actually be approved.
“In my personal case, I'm going to vote yes, as a citizen. But as a president of Catalonia, my commitment is to hold the referendum.”