THE  jailed Catalan leader Oriol Junqueras has said unilateral efforts to break away from Spain were no longer viable. 

Junqueras, who is serving a 13-year sentence for his role in a failed attempt to secede from Spain in 2017, has also said he supports a pardon for 12 imprisoned Catalan leaders which is expected to be granted by the Spanish government this summer.   

The leader of the Catalan Republican Left party  said the best way to end the political crisis in Catalunya was through a Scottish-style referendum agreed between Madrid and Barcelona.

Junqueras was one of nine Catalan independence leaders imprisoned in 2019 over their roles in the illegal referendum and a unilateral declaration of independence weeks later. 

He said in an article published by La Sexta TV and newspaper ARA on Monday that the response to the 2017 referendum by the Spanish state, in which police used force to try to stop the voters, was “less and less legitimate and more and more remote from democratic principles”. 

However, Junqueras also added: “But at the same time, we also need to be aware that our response wasn’t seen as clearly legitimate by a part of Spanish and Catalan society”.

The former vice-president of the Catalan regional government urged Madrid to “take the Scottish route” so people in Catalonia could vote on their future. 

Scotland held a referendum on independence in 2014 in which a majority backed staying part of the United Kingdom. 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez wants to grant pardons to jailed Catalan leaders to try to find a solution to the political deadlock in Catalunya but the measure is a deeply divisive one. 

A recent poll for El Mundo newspaper found 61% of Spaniards were against pardons while 29.5% backed the idea. 

Spain’s Supreme Court issued a non-binding ruling opposing the pardons saying that those who were jailed have shown no remorse and the sentences were appropriate.   

A rally against the pardons, which is to  be attended by the conservative People’s Party, the far-right Vox party,  is planned for Sunday in Madrid.

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