Details about referendum on independence announced in a show of force by Catalan government
President Puigdemont claims that citizens will vote and “no action by Spain will stop it”
The Catalan government made a show of force on Tuesday evening by committing itself once more in front of a 1,000 strong audience at the Catalan National Theater to holding a referendum on independence on October 1. Unlike the previous promises, though, this time it was announced with some long-awaited details on the vote and the official launch of a website (garanties.cat) where all the related information is to be found.
The Catalan president and vice president challenged the Spanish government while two other leaders of the main pro-independence coalition went through the fine print of the law, without forgetting that the smaller also pro-independence far-left CUP have facilitated a working majority for secession for the past two years.
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont reaffirmed his determination to hold the vote despite opposition by Spanish government, claiming that the success of the referendum depends only on the turnout and the final vote count. “There is no institution in Spain that can stop it,” he said.
“There is no institution in Spain that can stop it"
Catalan president Carles Puigdemont
International observers are expected to participate in the referendum in order to ensure its legitimacy. “We want to explain everywhere in the world that what we are doing is not only based on the legal framework, on legality, but it is also something that we want to open to the eyes of all observers that want to come here to guarantee that what we are doing here is right, is legitimate,” said Catalan Foreign Affairs Minister, Raül Romeva.
Marta Rovira, the spokeswoman for the Together for Yes pro-independence ruling coalition (Junts pel Sí), argued that the Referendum Law does not contradict the Spanish legal framework, since it is supported by international law. Specifically, she pointed to the international right to self-determination granted by the UN Charter for Human Rights, which she claimed that Spain, like other countries, had signed. “This regulation is part of the Spanish legal system,” she said.
According to Rovira, there are two limitations to taking advantage of the right to self-determination which will be respected: unlawfully using force and disregarding international law.
Later on in the event, Oriol Junqueras, the government's vice president and economy minister, reiterated the same argument as Rovira. “Spain is obliged by law to protect the referendum, as it has forced itself to respect all these rights and specially the right to self-determination,” he said.
Junqueras also criticized Madrid for its highly likely opposition to Barcelona’s plans: “The future of our children is far better off in our citizens’ hands rather than in the hands of a state which is not willing to let people vote. By not granting our vote it is saying it does not care what citizens want and decide.”
Like Rovira, Jordi Turull, the president of the Together for Yes coalition, insisted that the referendum is to be held “just like always”, meaning that its logistics will be similar to how Catalans vote in every election. “The logics behind the legal framework of the referendum mean that Catalan citizens won’t notice hardly any difference compared to a normal election,” explained Turull.
The vote and result will be binding. Two days after the soon-to-be-created electoral commission declares the official results, if there are more 'Yes' votes than 'No' votes, independence will be automatically declared in the Parliament. If the No vote prevails, a Catalan election within the Spanish framework will be called, and the independence push will likely to come to an end.
Rovira and Turull also explained that the law will create a new electoral committee in order to monitor the referendum process and eventually declare the winner. It will be made up of five people, who are either judicial scholars or political scientists.
All citizens older than 18 years who are of Spanish nationality and who reside in Catalonia will be eligible to vote, including those living abroad registered in both a Spanish and Catalan list and whose last residence in Spain was in Catalonia. There will be an official electoral roll and regular polling stations, operated by citizens chosen at random and supervised by volunteers, public servants, or others. “Just like always,” they asserted.