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Catalan President and left-wing independence party have not yet reached an agreement on early elections

After weeks of negotiations, the President of the Catalan Government and leader of the centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, Artur Mas, and the President of the left-wing pro-independence party ERC, Oriol Junqueras, have still not reached an agreement on whether to call early elections and whether to run together or separately. These elections should become a ‘de facto’ referendum on Catalonia’s independence from Spain. On Friday, it seemed they were close to an agreement, but in the evening it was obvious they had still some issues to discuss. During the weekend representatives from both the CiU and the ERC called on each other to close the deal. However, on Monday, the deal was yet to be closed and the main civil society organisations behind the massive pro-independence demonstrations from 2012, 2013 and 2014 are starting to lose their patience. Furthermore, the rest of the political parties have been highly critical of the long weeks of talks.

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12 January 2015 09:34 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- After weeks of negotiations, the President of the Catalan Government and leader of the centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, Artur Mas, and the President of the left-wing pro-independence party ERC, Oriol Junqueras, have still not reached an agreement on whether to call early elections and whether to run together or separately. These elections should become a ‘de facto’ referendum on Catalonia’s independence from Spain, taking into account the opposition of the Spanish Government during the last 2 years to even talk about allowing a mutually-agreed vote on this issue. On Friday, it seemed that Mas and Junqueras were close to reaching an agreement, but in the evening it was obvious they had still some issues to discuss. During the weekend representatives from both the CiU and the ERC called on each other to close the deal. However, on Monday, the deal was still yet to be closed. The ERC would now accept Mas’ cross-party candidacy backed by many independents, but the CiU is accusing the left-wing party of not having a “clear commitment” to reach an agreement. 


The situation is delicate, since this is the crucial week to reach an agreement or else the Catalan Government’s budget for 2015 will not be approved. The governing CiU, with 50 MPs, is lacking 18 votes in the Catalan Parliament to pass the budget bill and the support or abstention of the 21 ERC MPs is crucial. However, the ERC is not willing to facilitate the budget’s approval if early elections are not called first. The left-wing party identified this week as the last opportunity to reach an agreement, or otherwise they will vote against the budget. Taking all these elements into account, the Catalan President organised an urgent meeting with the CiU’s main leaders on Monday afternoon, the outcome of which has not been disclosed.

The CiU and ERC have been negotiating over early elections for the last 2 months

After the symbolic vote on independence that took place on 9 November throughout Catalonia, in which 2.35 million people participated, the CiU and ERC leaders have been arguing about the next steps of the self-determination process. Mas and Junqueras concur on the need to call early elections to hold a definitive vote on independence, but they disagree about whether to run together or separately, and whether to wait to negotiate a separation agreement with Spanish authorities or declare independence and immediately start drafting a Catalan Constitution. 

Last Friday, Mas sent a letter to Junqueras in which he proposed 3 different formulas for the early elections. The ERC partially accepted Mas’ third option: they would run separately but the Catalan President’s list would include leading representatives from civil society and independents. However, it was not clear whether the ERC would also include independents in its own list. On top of this, Mas did not specify when the elections would take place and the ERC wanted them in March. In the end, they publicly showed their differences and, during the weekend, they have been urging each other to reach an agreement.

Civil society organisations become impatient 

The main civil society organisations behind the massive pro-independence demonstrations from 2012, 2013 and 2014 are starting to lose their patience. They have organised a noisy protest on Monday at 21.30, in which citizens will bang kitchen pots from their balconies to demand a definitive agreement on the early elections.

The rest of the political parties heavily criticise the negotiations

Furthermore, the rest of the political parties, including the conservative People’s Party (PP) – which runs the Spanish Government – have been highly critical of the long weeks of talks. In addition, they have also criticised the fact that the CiU and the ERC are discussing whose electoral list will include the main civil society representatives and the more high-profile independents. 

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  • The Catalan President, Artur Mas (right), with leading members of the CiU on Monday (by P. Mateos)

  • The Catalan President, Artur Mas (right), with leading members of the CiU on Monday (by P. Mateos)