People’s Party wants to recentralise powers and rejects granting greater home rule to Catalonia
Once again the Spanish Government and the People’s Party (PP) have closed the door to making any concession to Catalonia with the objective of reducing support for independence. On Saturday, the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, travelled to Catalonia for the first time since last May’s European Elections to participate in a closed-door PP event. Rajoy insisted on affirming that November 9’s symbolic self-determination vote had been “a failure” of the pro-independence forces. He accused the Catalan President of “heading nowhere” and of ignoring “2 out of 3 Catalans”, a figure arrived at by adding all the people who did not vote on November 9. Once again, Rajoy refused any negotiation or to make any concession. On Monday, the PP’s leader in Catalonia, Alícia Sánchez-Camacho, stated that “Catalonia’s solution does not include third ways [built] with concessions”. Furthermore, the PP asked for a greater presence of the Spanish Government in Catalonia, which means recentralization.
Barcelona (ACN).- Once again the Spanish Government and the People’s Party (PP) – which holds an absolute majority at the Spanish Parliament – have closed the door to making any political or fiscal concession to Catalonia with the objective of reducing support for independence. On Saturday, the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, travelled to Catalonia for the first time since last May’s European Elections to participate in a closed-door event of the party he chairs.Instead of making an offer to Catalans, he heavily criticised self-determination demands and emphasised his total opposition to any negotiated way out, probably making his strongest statements on this issue so far. Rajoy insisted on affirming that November 9’s symbolic self-determination vote had been “a failure” of the pro-independence forces. He accused the Catalan President, Artur Mas, of “heading nowhere” and ignoring “2 out of 3 Catalans”, a figure Rajoy made up by adding all the people who did not vote on November 9 regardless of their age, nationality or legal residence status. In fact, the PP has been repeating during the last few days that they are representing “all the people” who did not cast a non-binding vote on that day. Besides, once again, Rajoy refused any negotiation or to make any concession that would grant Catalonia greater powers of self-rule or to recognize its nationhood status. On Monday, the PP’s leader in Catalonia, Alícia Sánchez-Camacho, stated that “Catalonia’s solution does not include third ways [built] with concessions” to self-determination parties, referring to the so-called ‘third way’ between independence and the current ‘status quo’. Furthermore, the PP asked for a greater presence and involvement of the Spanish Government in Catalonia, which means a greater recentralization of powers. In addition, Rajoy will not sit and talk “with those who are standing outside the Constitution”, stated Sánchez-Camacho, paraphrasing the Prime Minister's words from Saturday. This means not talking to and excluding those supporting independence , in spite of the fact that the Constitution protects freedom of ideology and expression, and includes ways of being reformed. On top of this, during the last few months the PP and Rajoy have been opposed to negotiating any reform of the Constitution. Therefore, the PP reaffirms its no-to-everything attitude and is ready to increase recentralisation of powers.
Rajoy, the Spanish Government and the PP totally reject the British way of handling Catalonia’s self-determination demands. Not only did they ignore the democratic mandate from the last Catalan elections in which an 80% majority was elected by promising a legal self-determination vote, which should have led to a mutually-agreed referendum as Scots had, but they also reject the strategy of charming Catalans to stay within Spain. No greater home rule powers for Catalonia, no concessions and no negotiation. Any third way between the current ‘status quo’ and independence is ruled out, and if something has to change it is the Spanish Government’s presence in Catalonia, which should be increased. This is Rajoy’s and the PP’s approach, clearly explained this weekend in Barcelona.
Therefore, not only have no concessions been made, but Rajoy and the PP want to use the independence demands as an excuse to increase their recentralisation agenda, reduce Catalonia’s self-government and stress Spanish nationalist policies, which tend to marginalise Catalan language and culture. They already took this path 15 years ago, when Jose María Aznar was Prime Minister, and continued to walk on it while in the opposition and when they reached the Spanish Government again in late 2011. This anti-Catalan attitude is one of the main reasons for the high support for independence. However, instead of proposing greater decentralisation (which is the UK formula), they insist on recentralising. Thus their attitude is not the one of seducing but the one of punishing. Rajoy will not only make any concession but he wants to win by K.O., launching a sort of Invincible Armada of governmental measures against Catalonia.
The PP will increase recentralisation and cultural homogenisation
By starting a process of criminal prosecution against members of the Catalan Government, including the President Artur Mas, and giving this last weekend’s speech, it seems that Rajoy has definitely chosen his course of action after having spent over 2 years standing still and acting with a no-to-everything attitude. Now, this defensive attitude remains but an publicly-acknowledged line of attack is also being launched without any attempt to disguise it. In fact, in the last 2 years, the Spanish authorities and the PP had already attacked self-determination by launching an Education Reform that had been dissolving Catalonia’s school model and attacking Catalan language, by passing measures in other Catalan-speaking territories (Valencia, Aragon and the Balearic Islands) against the Catalan language and identity, by asphyxiating the Catalan Government’s own fiscal resources, by recentralising powers or by leaking corruption scandals against Catalan politicians, despite some of these having been fake. However, all those measures were not officially connected to pro-independence demands in Catalonia.
Now, the PP is openly asking for a greater presence of the Spanish Government in Catalonia and Rajoy is backing this proposal. This will bury or at least delay for many months any negotiated way out between Catalan and Spanish authorities regarding a reform of the Constitution that would grant greater political and fiscal powers to Catalonia, as well as further guarantees that Catalan language will be protected and promoted. And this is delayed the moment pro-independence parties are about to transform early Catalan election into a de facto referendum on independence, since it is the only way left after the Spanish authorities’ blocking attitude to any mutually-agreed vote on the issue.