Podemos backs 'urgent' consultation in Catalonia on ties to Spain

Leader of Podemos political party Pablo Iglesias speaks during a campaign meeting of "Catalunya Si que es Pot" (Catalunya Yes it Can) for the upcoming Catalan regional elections, in Mataro, on September 19, 2015 (AFP Photo/Lluis Gene)

Madrid (AFP) - Spanish anti-austerity party Podemos said Monday it is "urgent" to consult Catalonia on what relationship it wants to have with the rest of Spain, just days ahead of an election in the wealthy region framed as an indirect vote on independence.

"Regardless of the results of the elections for the Catalan parliament, I say it is good, necessary, important and urgent to have a consultation in Catalonia so that everyone knows what kind of legal ties they want to have with the rest of the state," Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias said during an interview with radio Cadena Ser.

Nationalist leaders in Catalonia have vowed to declare independence within 18 months if they win a regional election on Sunday.

The latest opinion polls show separatist parties could win a majority in the 135-seat Catalan regional parliament.

The rising centre-right party Ciudadanos came in second place overall in two polls published Monday, with a group allied to Podemos in third.

The independence drive has intensified over the recent years of economic crisis. Catalans complain about how much of their tax money is redistributed to the rest of Spain.

Catalan nationalists have for years sought to hold an official independence referendum like those held in Scotland last year and in Canada's French-speaking province of Quebec in 1980 and 1995 which resulted in a "no" vote for separatists.

But Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has refused to allow a plebiscite, arguing it violates the Spanish constitution's stipulation that only the national government can call referendums on sovereignty, and that all Spaniards are entitled to vote in such a ballot.

Catalonia, a region of 7.5 million people which accounts for a fifth of Spain's economic output, has its own language which was suppressed during General Francisco Franco 1939-75 dictatorship.