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Pro-independence parties and civil society groups hold crucial meeting on unitary electoral list

On Monday, a summit among the main pro-independence parties and civil society organisations has been held at the Catalan President's office, the Generalitat Palace, in Barcelona. The meeting ended without a definitive agreement, although some attendees did say there was a "positive" atmosphere. An electoral list without professional politicians but grouping all the political sensitivities of the pro-independence forces is on the discussion table after days of intense public debate. This option is backed by the main civil society organisations promoting Catalonia's independence from Spain, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural, as well as by the main pro-independence left-wing parties, namely the Social-Democrat ERC and the alternative left CUP. However, the governing Liberal party CDC is against this formula as it would exclude the incumbent Catalan President, Artur Mas, from running in the elections that he would call early in order to transform them into a 'de facto' referendum on independence.

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13 July 2015 10:03 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- On Monday, a summit among the main pro-independence parties and civil society organisations has been held at the Catalan President's office, the Generalitat Palace, in Barcelona, to try to decide once and for all how they will run in the forthcoming 27 September elections, which are foreseen as a 'de facto' referendum on independence from Spain. The meeting ended without a definitive agreement, although some attendees did say there was a "positive" atmosphere and that definitive results should be announced in the coming days. An electoral list without professional politicians but grouping all the political sensitivities of the pro-independence forces was on the discussion table after days of intense public debate on this proposal. This option is backed by the main civil society organisations promoting Catalonia's independence, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), Òmnium Cultural and the Association of pro-Independence Municipalities (AMI), as well as by the main pro-independence left-wing parties, namely the Social-Democrat ERC and the alternative left CUP. However, the governing Liberal party CDC is against this formula as it would exclude the incumbent Catalan President, Artur Mas, from running in the elections that he would call early in order to transform them into such a 'de facto' plebiscite on independence. Two small and recently created parties formed by pro-independence figures who abandoned their former pro-Spanish unity parties also attended the meeting; they are the Social-Democrat MES – created by former members of the Catalan Socialist Party PSC – and the Social-Christian DC – launched this past weekend by former members of the Christian-Democrat UDC.


This Monday's meeting comes after last week the CUP proposed that pro-independence supporters should form a cutting-edge electoral list formed only by civil society members and retired politicians, excluding active politicians and political parties. According to them, such a candidature should represent the entire political spectrum of the forces supporting independence but without focusing on specific politicians or parties. They argued that such formula is "the only one" that can generate enough consensus and be backed by the entire pro-independence camp, as otherwise the presence of specific people or parties on the list could provoke some citizens or groups to stop backing the list. According to them, the absence of parties and professional politicians would have the advantage of avoiding partisan divisions and mistrust. The CUP stated that such an electoral list would guarantee that the elections are a plebiscite on independence and not about the continuity of the current government. In their plan, if this list wins the elections, the new Catalan Parliament would have to declare independence and in less than one year call Constituent Elections, this time with regular political parties running.

The proposal was immediately backed by the main civil society organisations and also by the ERC, which a few months ago was against running in a unitary list and was insisting on running separately. The governing and Liberal CDC is the main party reluctant to this formula, which would exclude the CDC leader and current Catalan President, Artur Mas, from running.

Monday's meeting was to be held last Friday, after Mas had call "a summit" among pro-independence parties and forces to discuss the proposal and reach an agreement. The clock is ticking, since the 27 September elections are approaching and they should be officially called in early August. Now, the latest polls published in the last half a year say that a majority of Catalans would be against independence, as opposed to the polls published in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Pro-independence forces have to boost the citizens if they want to win the coming elections, which they will transform into a 'de facto' referendum on this issue. Therefore, they have a very short time in which to reach agreement over whether they will run together or not, and undertake their election campaign.

Friday's meeting was postponed because the CUP said it wanted to discuss its stance with its members, following its assembly nature, and that it was also against "showing off summits". During this past weekend, much discreet contact and many meetings among parties and civil society associations have taken place. The summit was expected to take place later this week but it was in fact called by surprise this Monday morning. Around noon, the leaders of the main parties arrived at the Generalitat Palace. In the afternoon, representatives of two small parties, MES and DC, also joined the meeting.

"Totally constructive" atmosphere

In the evening, the representatives of the civil society organisations and the parties CUP, MES and DC left the meeting, which carried on with Mas, the ERC and CDC present. The President of the ANC, Jordi Sánchez, alongside the President of Òmnium Cultural – Muriel Casals – and that of the AMI – Josep Maria Vila d'Abadal, talked to the press when the meeting had finished. Sánchez stated that the meeting had been "enormously positive" and "totally constructive", although a definitive agreement has not yet been reached. However, he said that agreement is near and the "parties are still working on it", and that it should be announced later this week. Sánchez also stated that all those in attendance had agreed that no further public statements would be made today.

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  • The leaders of the 3 main civil society associations promoting Catalan independence in front of the Generalitat Palace after the meeting (by M. Sierra)

  • The leaders of the 3 main civil society associations promoting Catalan independence in front of the Generalitat Palace after the meeting (by M. Sierra)