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High turnout expected in Catalan election dogged by corruption controversy | In English | EL PAÍS

Long lines outside Catalonia's polling stations early this morning suggested that turnout in regional parliamentary elections would be higher than usual after a turbulent campaign revolving around the possibility of a sovereignty referendum and accusations of corruption leveled at Catalan premier Artur Mas. By 6pm, participation stood at 56.10 percent, almost eight percentage points higher than in the previous regional poll and the highest since 1988, according to figures provided by the Generalitat regional government.

In the closing week of the campaign, premier Mas of the conservative nationalist CiU bloc has faced allegations of corruption and money laundering stemming from an unofficial police report cited by El Mundo newspaper. Despite the fact that the report has not been included in any judicial investigation and that the UDEF financial crimes squad chief said last Thursday that his department knew nothing about it, senior government figures from the center-right Popular Party (PP) have alluded to the allegations made by the newspaper and asked Mas to clear his name.

After Friday's Cabinet meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría was asked about the unsigned draft police report insinuating that Mas and former Catalan premier Jordi Pujol have secret bank accounts in Switzerland where they reportedly deposited kickbacks-for-contracts money. "The first thing that those who have overseas bank accounts must do is to declare them," she said in reference to an element of the government's anti-fraud campaign.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Nov 25th, 2012 at 02:38:17 PM EST
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