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The Catalan President will organise a vote for self determination even if the Spanish Government bans it

In the Catalan Parliament’s main annual debate, the parties assessed the current situation and the Catalan President’s speech from yesterday. The parties that openly support Catalonia’s independence backed the Catalan President and leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) but asked to rush proceedings. Those supporting the right to self-determination but not necessarily independence and those directly opposing independence criticised CiU’s policies for fighting the crisis and its focus on the process to create a state. The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, offered a detailed reply to each intervention. However, he also made an announcement: if he is re-elected President, he will organise a referendum on self-rule, even if the Spanish Government bans it.

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27 September 2012 02:35 AM

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ACN / Gaspar Pericay Coll

Barcelona (ACN).- The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, announced on Wednesday that if he is re-elected in the 25th November elections \u2013 which were called yesterday \u2013 he will organise a vote for self-determination in the next term, allowing Catalan people decide on their own future. Furthermore, he emphasised he would do so even if the Spanish Government opposed the move. This announcement comes two weeks after the massive demonstration for Catalonia\u2019s independence from Spain, when 1.5 million people, according to the Catalan and local police corps, peacefully marched along Barcelona\u2019s streets. Mas made the announcement on the second day of the Catalan Parliament\u2019s main annual debate, called the Debate on General Policy. The first day was the President\u2019s time to address the Parliament and today the different political groups assessed the current situation, reflected on the future and replied to Mas\u2019 speech. Furthermore, the Catalan President replied each of the interventions, as the Parliament\u2019s rules stipulate. Besides the total support from his own party (CiU), the President speech was mostly backed by the parties that openly support independence (ERC and SI). However they asked Mas \u201Cto rush\u201D and \u201Cfix a clear calendar\u201D, which the Catalan President refused to do. The parties supporting the right to self-determination (PSC and ICV-EUiA), which are also Left-Wing, criticised Mas for his Right-Wing policies, for having downgraded public services and for acting with his party\u2019s interest in mind instead of the country\u2019s. Mas replied that these accusations are \u201Cdemagogical\u201D and that the budget cuts were necessary to control the public deficit. Finally, the parties opposing the Catalan independence (PP and C\u2019s) \u2013 which are Spanish nationalist \u2013 criticised Mas for driving Catalonia \u201Cto uncertainty\u201D and for hiding his economic \u201Cfailure\u201D behind the independence claims. Mas lamented the use of \u201Cfear strategies\u201D to avoid allowing Catalans to freely and directly decide on their own future.


The PSC proposes a \u201Clegal referendum\u201D to ratify an agreement with Spain

The main opposition party in Catalonia, the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) \u2013which is federated with the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE)-, proposed \u201Ca third way\u201D instead of the \u201Cdead end\u201D represented by the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) and the People\u2019s Party (PP). CiU runs the Catalan Government and now proposes to celebrate the self-determination vote; the PP runs the Spanish Government and opposes the recognition of Catalonia\u2019s specificities and the specific economic agreement, similar to that of the Basque Country and Navarra. The PSC defends \u201Can asymmetrical federal\u201D Spain, where Catalonia would have its national status recognised. The Chairman of the Socialist Group at the Catalan Parliament, Xavier Sabaté, proposed firstly to agree with Spain on this new model by \u201Creforming the Constitution\u201D and then to ratify this agreement through \u201Ca legal referendum\u201D. In addition, he criticised Mas for having put his party\u2019s interests first and for not having worked to solve Catalonia\u2019s economic problems. According to Sabaté, the Catalan President is hiding the social debate and the budget cuts behind the Catalan independence flag.

Mas responded to Sabaté by announcing that \u201Ca legal referendum\u201D needs to be authorised by the Spanish Government. However, if Madrid does not authorise the Catalan people to directly vote on their own future, Catalans still have the right to democratically have their say and must do so. \u201CIf a referendum can be organised because the Spanish Government authorises it, good. However if it does not authorise it, it has to be organised anyway\u201D, stated Mas. The Catalan President also refuted the accusation of having organised the elections following party interests.

The PP accuses Mas of leading Catalonia to \u201Cuncertain roads\u201D

The leader of the Catalan branch of the People\u2019s Party (PP), Alícia Sánchez-Camacho, accused Mas of leading Catalonia towards \u201Cuncertain roads\u201D. She emphasised that a referendum not authorised by the Spanish Government would be \u201Cillegal\u201D and stated that Mas is using the elections for tactical reasons. She asked for the support of the \u201CCatalan citizens who refuse to break with Spain\u201D. She stated that an independent Catalonia would be out of the EU as Spain would veto it. In addition, she proposed a 20% reduction in the number of Catalan MPs, following \u201Causterity\u201D principles.

The Catalan President responded to  Sánchez-Camacho saying that she is \u201Cusing fear strategies\u201D to avoid allowing the Catalan people \u201Cto freely decide on their future\u201D. \u201CCatalan people must be heard without threatening them or inferring fear\u201D, he added. \u201CWe want to be in the European Union and the Euro. And this depends on the Catalans, the Spaniards, and which things are made at EU-level\u201D, he emphasised. Mas also asked the PP to accept that \u201CCatalonia is a nation and not a simple Autonomous Community\u201D, as this is \u201Cthe main problem\u201D.

The ICV-EUiA asked for \u201Ctransversal majorities\u201D to build the self-determination process

The Catalan Green Socialist and Communist Coalition (ICV-EUiA) criticised Mas for having abandoned the people who are suffering because of the crisis and the budget cuts. ICV-EUiA\u2019s Chairman, Joan Herrera, stated that Mas is following \u201Causterity as a dogma\u201D and that the Catalan Government has failed in guaranteeing social cohesion. Herrera criticised the budget cuts in social services and accused Mas of working for the richest and of being \u201Celitist\u201D. He backed the self-determination process but he asked Mas to build \u201Ctransversal majorities\u201D. For Herrera the split needs to be between \u201Cthose who want to democratically decide\u201D and \u201Cthose who refuse the democratic expression of the citizenry\u201D.

Mas accused Herrera of being \u201Cdemagogical\u201D. The Catalan President stated that they agree on many things regarding the national aspects and the self-determination process. However he lamented Herrera\u2019s tone regarding the economic crisis and the social issues. Mas defended the budget cuts as being \u201Cnecessary\u201D and said that Left-Wing governments are also implementing them. He also refused to consider austerity to be \u201Ca dogma\u201D. The Catalan President insisted that \u201Causterity is a value\u201D and a requirement agreed on by all the European Member States.

The ERC asks for a calendar fixing the road map towards independence

The Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) asked Mas \u201Cto fix a calendar\u201D, which should state the road map towards independence. The Chairman of ERC\u2019s Parliamentary group, Joan Puigcercós, stated that \u201Cwe are in a rush\u201D, as independence would be \u201Cthe solution to Catalonia\u2019s economic and social problems\u201D. In addition he urged Mas to \u201Cfix a date for democracy\u201D, pushing the Catalan President to fix a date for an independence referendum. In addition, Puigcercós asked Mas to implement policies with a social stress, as \u201Cthose having to vote for the independence are suffering\u201D due to the crisis.

The Catalan President refused to give a calendar or to fix any date. He asked for \u201Cflexibility\u201D regarding the date for the self-determination vote. Furthermore, he emphasised that the vote should be organised when there is a large majority of Catalans who have decided to vote for independence, because if the independence supporters lost the referendum, the process would be stopped for many years.

C\u2019s criticised the \u201Cfailure\u201D of Mas\u2019 Government and SI asked \u201Cto put political differences to the side\u201D

The two minority parties, the anti-Catalan nationalist and populist party \u2018Ciutadans\u2019 (C\u2019s) and the radical independence and populist party \u2018Solidaritat\u2019 (SI), who share the mixed group, exposed their very different views. C\u2019s stated that \u201CMas\u2019 Government has failed\u201D in fighting the economic crisis and working towards recovery, as \u201Cthe current situation is worse than it was two years ago\u201D. They also accused Mas of \u201Cusing the independence debate to hide this failure\u201D and they draw parallelisms with a coup d\u2019état.

SI asked the parties \u201Cto put their differences to the side\u201D and to unite to work for Catalan independence. SI considers the next Catalan elections, to be held on 25th November, to be a de facto independence referendum to end with \u201CSpain\u2019s plundering\u201D.

Mas lamented that C\u2019s, which \u201Crepresents an absolute minority\u201D, \u201Cact as if they had an absolute majority\u201D. The Catalan President accused C\u2019s of being demagogical. Regarding SI\u2019s intervention, the Catalan President recommended that they should use a less aggressive language.

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  • The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, at the Debate on General Policy (by O. Campuzano)

  • The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, at the Debate on General Policy (by O. Campuzano)