President proposes new independence referendum within framework of Spanish Constitution

'Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state?' would be wording of question posed to electorate

President Pere Aragonès speaks at an event in Madrid
President Pere Aragonès speaks at an event in Madrid / Miquel Vera
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

April 2, 2024 12:46 PM

April 2, 2024 08:47 PM

The Catalan president has announced the format a proposed new independence referendum would take, namely in agreement with the Spanish government and under Article 92 of the Spanish Constitution. 

The referendum would take place in Catalonia only, with the following question put to the electorate: 'Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state?' 

Pere Aragonès shared the proposal – based on a report by the Institute for Self-government Studies (IEA) – with his cabinet members on Tuesday.  

The announcement comes a few weeks after Aragonès called a snap Catalan election for May 12.  

In the past, he had proposed a Quebec-style Clarity Act, which would promote negotiations between the Spanish and the Catalan governments in order to organize a referendum. 

Useful in negotiations

Aragonès acknowledged the format proposed was not the only way a referendum could be held, adding that the report could be very useful in "the new stage of negotiations with the [Spanish] state."

It poses a binary and "unequivocally clear" question, with no minimum turnout required. 

Speaking at Palau Centelles, headquarters of the IEA, Aragonès described the report as "solid" and "a tool to open again the path [to independence]." 

We are not facing an impossible situation," the president said, emphasizing that Article 92 of the Constitution "allows the referendum to be held directly without any kind of legislative amendments." 


"A vote on independence is possible within the current legislative framework. It is just a question of political will, like the amnesty," Aragonès said.  

The fact that no minimum turnout would be required differs from the proposals previously put forward by Aragones' party, Esquerra Republicana (ERC). That favored the Montenegrin model, with at least 55% of votes in favor of independence on a 50% turnout, the same used in Montenegro when it voted to separate from Serbia. 

The latest report, however, warns that "establishing a participation quorum may encourage the abstention of opponents to avoid the triumph of the supporters of the project in question," so it is not recommended. 

Madrid rejects proposal 

The Spanish government moved quickly to rule out any referendum, with spokesperson Pilar Alegría saying the proposal from Aragonès amounted to a bid for votes in the upcoming Catalan election. 

"The position that Aragonès conveyed is his position, but it is absolutely not the position of this government, let alone that of the majority of Catalan society," Alegría said on Tuesday at a press conference following a Spanish cabinet meeting. 


"Our position is clear," Alegría said, "and it is radically opposed" to a referendum. The Spanish government is in favor of "coexistence, rapprochement, and to keep moving forward," she said, adding that it was a policy that has the support of "the majority of Catalan society." 

"When there are elections so close, candidates launch their proposals," the Spanish government spokesperson said.  

Alegría denied that the proposal could affect the government, which is dependent on Aragones' Esquerra Republicana (ERC), among other parties, to pass legislation in the Spanish Congress. 

"We are aware that the parliamentary majority involves dialogue with various parties," and "we will continue constructive dialogue to apply laws and measures that improve people's lives." 

Aragonès defiant

Aragonès, however, was defiant in the face of the Spanish government's 'no' on the issue. 

"It is the same government that said 'no' to the transfer of [commuter rail] Rodalies, to the transfer of the minimum basic income and to the transfer of the amnesty, and now they are a reality," he told party members in a speech on Tuesday evening.  

"They say it's impossible but at ERC we know that impossible doesn't appear in our dictionary; we will make it possible if the citizens of Catalonia want it," the party's candidate for the May 12 election said.