THE president of Catalonia has thanked Alex Salmond for supporting the “clear mandate” of the people to move towards independence.

The Gordon MP spoke out after Catalonia went to the polls in an informal vote on self-determination last month, with 80 per cent of voters backing the change.

More than two million of the 4.5 million eligible voters took part and Catalan president Artur Mas said the result proved Madrid must begin the process of holding an official referendum. In an interview with Catalan TV, Salmond told Yes voters to “consolidate the gains and move on and look for the next opportunity”, adding: “By any standard in a proportional election, this was a significant mandate for people’s aspirations.”

He also offered to provide guidance on how to establish the process if asked, saying: “We have some experience in how to build a consensus for a process. If we were invited, and only if we were invited, we could share it.”

Mas wrote to Salmond to express his “sincere gratitude” for the support. He said: “I am writing this letter to express my sincere gratitude for your interesting words about Catalonia after the September 27 elections, which gave us a clear mandate from our people to move forward the process towards Catalan self-determination.

“From Catalonia we especially welcome your advice, given your experience. The Catalan government appreciates you voicing your point of view at a time such as this in the European and international scenario, where you are regarded as a prestigious and trustworthy politician after driving an exemplary process between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.”

Salmond said: “I was delighted to receive the letter from President Artur Mas. The victory for Junts per Sí [“Together For Yes”] in the Catalan elections is an incredible achievement and shows progress in their journey towards independence.

“The question on Catalan independence is something which I have been following for many years now. However, it is important to stress that while I believe in their right to hold a referendum on their future,

I, nor any other political commentator – whether friend or foe – should dictate to the Catalan people.”