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Catalonia’s independence the focus of Spain’s electoral campaign

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has started his round of meetings with Spanish socialist party PSOE, Anti-Catalan nationalism ‘Ciutadans’, alternative left ‘Podemos’ and Spanish left IU, the main political forces running in the 20-D Spanish elections. The aim of these meetings was to set a common programme to deal with Catalonia’s push for independence, which is outstanding as the centre of the electoral campaign. “I take responsibility for leading the answer to this defiance”stated Rajoy and added that the Spanish State “has by far enough mechanisms to successfully face this situation”. Rajoy assured that during these meetings with the other political parties he asked his interlocutors to “trust”these mechanisms and avoid “unproductive debates”on such matters, referring to the possible application of article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, suggested by Ciutadans’leader Albert Rivera, which would imply the suspension of Catalonia’s autonomy. 

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02 November 2015 03:08 PM

by

Sara Prim

Barcelona (CNA).- Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, wants to set a common strategy to deal with Catalonia’s push for independence, which is being presented as the focus of the 20-D electoral campaign. With this purpose, Rajoy met with the main political forces running in the upcoming Spanish elections, Spanish socialist party PSOE, Anti-Catalan nationalism ‘Ciutadans’, alternative left ‘Podemos’ and Spanish left IU. According to Rajoy, Catalonia is planning to “violate the law”and he therefore takes “responsibility for leading the answer to this defiance”. Rajoy emphasised that the Spanish State “has by far enough mechanisms to successfully face this situation”and called on his interlocutors to “trust”these mechanisms and avoid “unproductive debates”on such matters, referring to the possible application of article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, suggested by Ciutadans’leader Albert Rivera, which would imply the suspension of Catalonia’s autonomy. PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez agreed on a strategy to guarantee Spain’s unity but called for a “reform of the Constitution”rather than “petrifying it”.  ‘Podemos’leader Pablo Iglesias went a bit further and declared after his meeting with Rajoy that “there weren’t coincidences”and defined the Spanish Prime Minister’s position regarding Catalonia as “stagnant”and “a bunker strategy”.


The Spanish Prime Minister appeared before the media after meeting with the main political parties running in the 20-D Spanish elections and thanked “the immense majority”of them for their fierce defence of “Spain’s unity”. Rajoy also asked them to “trust”the mechanisms that the Spanish State has to “successfully face this situation” and avoid “nonsense”, he emphasised, referring to Catalonia’s declaration to start the independence process. According to him, Catalonia is planning to “violate the law”and he therefore takes “responsibility for leading the answer to this defiance” and for making sure that the rights of all Spanish citizens are well respected. Rajoy promised to do “the possible and the impossible to keep this understanding on what’s fundamental”.

The journalists asked Rajoy if he was planning on meeting with Catalan governing party, liberal CDC. He admitted that he would only do so to urge them to “immediately withdraw”the agreed proposal to start building a Catalan independent state, which was handed over to the Parliament by pro-independence forces, ‘Junts Pel Sí’and CUP.

Ciutadans: A fiercer strategy to stop Catalonia’s push for independence

Anti-Catalan nationalism ‘Ciutadans’put itself at the service of Spain’s government to set any required “coordinated action”. Its leader, Albert Rivera, admitted to supporting PP’s strategy of acting “intelligently, effectively and preventing things from getting out of hand”. 

However, Rajoy and Rivera had different position regarding the procedures. According to Rivera, Spain’s government must already appeal the declaration of independence presented by ‘Junts Pel Sí’and CUP and take it before the Spanish Constitutional Court, while the Spanish executive prefers to wait until the declaration is finally approved.

Rivera also laid on the table his proposal for an “Agreement for Spain”which implies a fierce compromise to defend article 1 of the Spanish Constitution. This point of view expresses the commitment to not ruling nor reaching agreements with pro-independence forces. Rajoy assured that he will “study”Rivera’s proposal. 

Both Rajoy and Rivera agreed that the application of article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which would imply the suspension of Catalonia’s autonomy, is one of the mechanisms that the government has at its disposal. However, Rajoy called for the use of other “previous mechanisms”and avoid applying article 155. Rivera agreed to “take it bit by bit”and admitted that “article 155 can’t be applied nor dismissed unless there are legal actions, such as a declaration of independence”. 

PSOE: Reforming the Spanish Constitution rather than petrifying it

Spanish Socialist Party PSOE’s leader, Pedro Sánchez, agreed to work together with Spain’s government in order to “defend the Constitution, the national unity, the national sovereignty and the equality amongst Spanish citizens”. 

However, at an event held in Catalonia this weekend, Sánchez admitted that the only way “to defend the Spanish Constitution”is “by reforming it rather than petrifying it”. According to Sánchez, a reform of the Constitution is the only proposal which allows “to add and not to break”and accused President Mas of “wrapping himself”with democracy and then “breaking the law”.

Podemos: PP is performing a “bunker strategy”

After his meeting with Mariano Rajoy, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias stated that “there weren’t coincidences”. “It’s not time for trenches nor bunkers. We bid for dialogue and for building bridges”stated Iglesias and added that Podemos has “a project for Spain and a project for Catalonia”.

Iglesias expressed his support for holding a referendum in Catalonia and defended the recognition of Catalonia as a “nation”. He refused to be part of the “bunker”that PP, PSOE and C’s are planning on building to deal with Catalonia’s push for independence. Iglesias also accused Rajoy of endangering Spain’s unity by creating “a factory of pro-independence”with his “stagnant”strategy. “It’s not time for trenches nor bunkers. We bid for dialogue and for building bridges”stated Iglesias and added that Podemos has “a project for Spain and a project for Catalonia”. “I came to tell Rajoy that Catalonia is a challenge for Spain but it is not the only one”and added that it is not possible to “talk about Catalonia without talking of Spain”.

Podemos’leader proposed an agreement based on five points that would go from a reform of the Constitution and the legal system, to fierce defence of social rights and the right of the citizens to decide their future. 

IU: The solution to Catalonia’s push for independence is not the Court

“The way out from the Catalan conflict has to be dialogued and negotiated”stated Spanish Left IU’s leader, Alberto Garzón. After his meeting with Mariano Rajoy this Monday, Garzón refused to back any agreement and accused both PP and CDC of “getting the popular classes away from the rest of Spain”. “They don’t want us to discuss the real problems, that’s why we won’t take part in PP and CDC’s theatre”he stated. Garzón called for a “multi-party debate”on how to deal with Catalonia’s push for independence and assured that the solution to Catalonia’s case “doesn’t have to go through the court”.

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  • Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, appeared before the media after the meetings

  • Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, appeared before the media after the meetings