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Catalan President proposes 3 electoral scenarios to left-wing independence leader

The President of the Catalan Government and leader of the centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, Artur Mas, has sent a letter to the President of the opposition left-wing pro-independence party ERC, Oriol Junqueras, in which he has proposed 3 different formulas for early elections being transformed into a ‘de facto’ referendum on independence from Spain. Mas and Junqueras disagree about whether to run together or separately, and also whether these elections should be to firstly negotiate independence with Spain and later ratify independence through a referendum, or to directly proclaim independence and draft a Constitution. On Friday, after weeks of negotiations between Mas, Junqueras and the main civil society organisations backing independence, the Catalan President is making a public move to unblock the current situation, which is discouraging many pro-independence supporters. 

09 January 2015 09:43 PM

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ACN

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Barcelona (ACN).- The President of the Catalan Government and leader of the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, Artur Mas, has sent a letter to the President of the opposition left-wing pro-independence party ERC, Oriol Junqueras, in which he has proposed 3 different electoral formulas for early elections being transformed into a ‘de facto’ referendum on independence from Spain. Mas emphasised once again his shared candidacy, with elections taking place around March. However, he said he is also ready to accept running separately with Junqueras, but with elections taking place in the second half of 2015. Finally, Mas would also be open to run separately from the ERC but having as part of his candidacy a large representation from the main civil society organisations and independents. Mas said he will announce his decision about early elections next week.


On Friday, after weeks of negotiations between Mas, Junqueras and the main civil society organisations backing independence, the Catalan President is making a public move to unblock the current situation, which is discouraging many pro-independence supporters. After the symbolic and non-binding vote on independence, in which 2.35 million citizens participated, Mas and Junqueras have different views about what exactly should be the next step. They explained their views at two conferences, which took place one week apart from each other in late November and early December (Mas' conference was first and one week later, Junqueras gave his speech). Since then, their parties and the main civil society organisations supporting the self-determination process have been trying to reach an agreement to carry on and, at the same time, not to break the unity of action among those supporting independence. However, many citizens, civil society organisations and the rest of the parties have been critical of these long weeks of talks, which have not led anywhere so far. 

Mas and Junqueras disagree about whether to run together or separately in the early Catalan elections transformed into a ‘de facto’ referendum on independence. Furthermore, they disagree about whether the goal of these elections should be to firstly negotiate independence with Spain and later ratify independence through a referendum (Mas’ option), or to directly proclaim independence and draft a Constitution. As well as this, there is the negotiation of the Catalan Government’s budget for 2015, which should be approved by the Catalan Parliament in early February. However, the governing CiU is lacking parliamentary support and needs the votes or the abstention from the ERC, which refuses to back the figures of a regional executive since they believe the budget should focus on building the new Catalan State. The ERC already stated that if there is no agreement on the electoral formula by next week, they will vote against the new budget.

Mas’ 3 scenarios

In his letter, Mas proposes a first scenario in which they would run together and elections would take place in March, before the municipal elections already scheduled for May. Since the early Catalan Parliament elections would be a ‘de facto’ referendum on independence, they should not take place at the same time as any other elections, in order not to generate confusion about the results (i.e. having a candidacy winning the Catalan elections but coming in second place at municipal level). By calling elections in March, Mas would be accepting ERC’s demand to held them as soon as possible. 

The second scenario would be to delay the electoral call and schedule it for the second half of 2015, after the municipal elections, with the CiU and ERC running separately. In this scenario, there is another ballot to take into account: the Spanish general elections, which should take place in late November. Once again, the Catalan elections should not coincide with this ballot, and therefore a suitable moment for them could be September, in order to avoid the summer holidays and the Christmas break. In this second scenario, Mas proposes to already start drafting the new Constitution of the Catalan Republic, taking into account the current parliamentary majority of the CiU and the ERC, as well as to start building the basic structures of the new state. This formula would enable other pro-self-determination parties to participate, such as the Catalan green socialist and post-communist coalition ICV-EUiA.

The third scenario is the one suggested by the Association of pro-Independence Municipalities (AMI) in a discrete meeting between Mas, Junqueras and the main civil society organisations supporting independence, which took place during the Christmas holidays. Under this formula, Mas and Junqueras would run in separate lists, but the President’s one would be widely supported by civil society organisations and independents.

Finally, in his letter, Mas recalled the parliamentary stability agreement that the CiU and ERC shared since December 2012, just after the last Catalan elections. Back then, both groups received an absolute majority, in elections that already were a plebiscite on whether to call a referendum on independence during this term. Ultimately, a referendum as such did not take place and instead the Catalan President called a symbolic vote, which provoked the ERC to quit the stability agreement. Mas regretted that despite the “great success” of the symbolic vote on independence, which took place on 9 November, the Government is “weaker” than before. On a final note, Mas highlighted that this agreement included 89 measures; two years after it was signed, 60 have been executed and 20 are in the process of being implemented.

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  • Artur Mas (left) and Oriol Junqueras after a meeting they had in the Catalan Parliament in December (by ACN)

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