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Catalan Socialist leader insists on a Constitutional Reform as the "only" solution for the current political situation

Miquel Iceta, First Secretary of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), proposed his road map for the coming two years: no early elections and broad Constitutional Reform to better fit Catalonia into a federal Spain. On Wednesday Iceta held his own conference after those of the Catalan President and leader of the centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition (CiU), Artur Mas, and the left-wing independence party (ERC), Oriol Junqueras. While the two others support independence, Iceta opposes it. He totally rejected the road maps proposed by Mas and Junqueras and insisted on the need to work "on the real problems of Catalans", such as poverty, unemployment, budget cuts in public healthcare, etc. However, the PSC leader admitted that "there will be no solution without a vote", but "a real vote". Iceta said that before breaking up with Spain, Catalans should be allowed to vote on "a new agreement" to remain in Spain. In order to facilitate such a new agreement, he proposed that the Spanish Government cancel part of the Autonomous Communities' debt.

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10 December 2014 10:47 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- Miquel Iceta, First Secretary of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), proposed his road map for the coming two years: no early elections and broad Constitutional Reform to better fit Catalonia into a federal Spain. On Wednesday Iceta held his own conference after those of the Catalan President and leader of the centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition (CiU), Artur Mas, and the left-wing independence party (ERC), Oriol Junqueras. While the two others support independence, Iceta opposes it. He totally rejected the road maps proposed by Mas and Junqueras and insisted on the need to work "on the real problems of Catalans", such as poverty, unemployment, budget cuts in public healthcare, etc. However, the PSC leader admitted that "there will be no solution without a vote", but "a real vote". Iceta said that before breaking up with Spain, Catalans should be allowed to vote on "a new agreement" to remain in Spain. Such an agreement should be based on "recognising Catalonia's national reality", affirming the "pluri-cultural and pluri-lingual reality of Spain", protecting Catalonia's culture and language, including its education model, and launching a "fiscal agreement for Catalonia" based on solidarity with poorer regions". In order to facilitate a new agreement, he proposed that the Spanish Government cancel part of the Autonomous Communities' debt.


In front of 800 people gathered at Barcelona's Maritime Museum, the PSC leader held his own conference; he did so a week after Junqueras' and two weeks after Mas'. The Secretary General of the ERC, Marta Rovira, and the CiU's parliamentary Spokesperson, Jordi Turull, were present, as well as businesspeople and representatives from the civil society sharing a pro-Spanish unity stance.

Iceta put the CiU and the ERC's leaders in the same group, insisting they were sharing the same road map and independence project, ignoring the differences between them.  According to him, their proposal is a "unilateral one", based on creating "fronts" and only addressed to a minority of the Catalan society, to "1.8 million people, or even less", downplaying those who voted for independence on the symbolic vote on November 9. In this vein, he rejected the possibility of calling early elections and stated that elections should take place as scheduled, at the end of 2016. Once again, he said that the PSC is "willing to help", but he accused the Catalan Government of not asking for help and of instead pretending an "unconditional support".

Reaching agreements is "the only way"

Iceta highlighted that "the collision course must be abandoned" and he accused the Spanish and Catalan Government of not talking to each other. "Nothing can be solved without pacts". "This is no the Third Way, but the only possible way", he stressed. "Ideological inflexibility is kidnapping Catalan politics", he stated. In order to overcome the current situation he proposed 5 urgent measures to be agreed between Catalan and Spanish authorities. 

Firstly, the Spanish Government should give an answer to the 23 urgent issues the Catalan President addressed to the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, on July 31. In fact, Iceta accused Artur Mas of not having earned any new powers, new funds or new agreements with eh Spanish authorities in the last 4 years. Secondly, the PSC leader admitted that the deficit targets for the Autonomous Communities are unfair and should be reviewed, in order to allow a greater deficit in the budget since they manage basic public services and have carried out most of Spain's budget adjustments. Thirdly, urgent measures should be adopted to reactivate the economy and employment levels. In fourth place, a constitution reform should be launched at the Spanish Parliament to transform Spain into a truly federal country. 

Cancelling part of the Autonomous Communities' debt

And, finally , the current funding scheme of the Autonomous Communities governments should be reviewed, since it expired on January 1 last and it does not provide them with enough resources.In order to facilitate the revision of such a scheme, Iceta proposed that the Spanish Government should take on its shoulders part of the Autonomous Communities' debt. For instance, it could cancel the debt they have with the Liquidity Fund (FLA). In addition, the new scheme should guarantee that richer territories do not have fewer resources per inhabitant after the inter-territorial redistribution, as is the present case with Catalonia.

Iceta admitted that Catalans will have to vote on their new relation with the rest of Spain, as it is "the only way" to solve the current situation. This means a Constitutional Reform, which he admitted is likely to be launched after the People's Party is defeated in the next Spanish elections, scheduled in November 2015. 

Regarding the Constitutional Reform, Iceta gave 10 guidelines: transforming the current Autonomous Community model into a federal country; recognising the particularities and differences of the  "nationalities", as well as the historical rights already recognised; defining the exact powers of the Spanish Government and granting the rest to regional governments; strengthening social rights; that the regions with their own language should have exclusive powers in culture and education; launching a new inter-territorial funding scheme that respects the ranking of resource per inhabitant; decentralisation of judicial power; a senate with the representation of the autonomous communities; increasing citizen participation; and better recognising the role of municipalities. 

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  • The PSC's First Secretary, Miquel Iceta, addressing the audience during his conference (by R. Garrido)

  • The PSC's First Secretary, Miquel Iceta, addressing the audience during his conference (by R. Garrido)