Sturgeon watching Catalan debate with ‘great interest’

People in Scotland will be watching events in Spain “with great interest” after Catalan separatists won a majority of seats in the regional parliament, according to Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon.

President of Catalonia Artur Mas celebrates as the Catalanist coalition 'Junts Pel Si' (Together for the Yes) claim victory in the regional elections held in Catalonia on Sunday.

Ms Sturgeon said the failed bid for Scottish independence in a legally-binding vote last year should set an international example of how secessionist votes should be conducted.

Parties pushing for independence from Spain won a majority of seats in Catalonia’s regional parliament in a ballot but failed to secure more than 50 per cent of the popular vote in an election they had hoped would give them a clear, unequivocal mandate for secession.

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The government of prime minister Mariano Rajoy has made it clear it will use all legal methods to prevent the independence of Catalonia, which accounts for nearly a fifth of Spain’s economic output.

Speaking at a Scottish Council for Development and Industry event in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said: “I congratulate the parties that have won the election and wish them well for the future.

“I have to say, though, what happens in terms of Catalonia and Spain, and the relationship between the two, is a matter for the people of Catalonia, just as Scotland’s constitutional future is a matter for the people of Scotland.

“I’m sure many people in Scotland, given our recent experience of a referendum, will be looking with great interest at what is happening in Catalonia.

“We know from the experience of the referendum that many Catalans look with great interest at what happens in Scotland, but we are two different countries with different circumstances, different situations, different experiences and the future of Catalonia will be decided by the people of Catalonia.

“My view is that it was a credit to both the Scottish Government and the UK Government that our referendum happened as a consensual democratic exercise in self-determination.

“I think Scotland has given the world an example of how to make these big decisions in absolutely the right way.”

The SNP’s landslide win in the 2011 Holyrood elections was accepted as a mandate for a Scottish independence referendum by the Westminster government, which temporarily handed Holyrood the constitutional power to hold a legally-binding vote on September 18 last year.

Scotland voted by 55% to remain in the UK but subsequently handed the SNP another Scottish landslide in the UK general election.

Ms Sturgeon has now pledged to set out the circumstances that she would deem appropriate to hold another independence referendum in her forthcoming 2016 Holyrood election manifesto.