NOTE! This site uses cookies

By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more detalis, see Read more

Accept

What are you looking for?

Business and Socialist pressure to talk and to reform Constitution, but Spanish Government remains opposed

On Thursday and Friday, several messages were sent from business circles and the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) aiming to negotiate a Constitutional Reform to find a better accommodation of Catalonia within Spain. However, on Friday afternoon, the Spanish Government once again closed the door to such a Constitutional Reform saying there was "no consensus". In the morning, Spain's largest business owners association stated that "laws are not immortal" and "can be changed to adapt to reality". The day before, the President of the Cercle d'Economia business lobby said he supported "a legal" consultation vote "agreed with Spain", but asked the Catalan President "to give dialogue a second chance" and reform the Constitution if necessary. On Friday, the Secretary General of the PSOE stated that such a Constitutional Reform should be negotiated among the governing People's Party (PP), the PSOE and Catalonia. However, it would not recognise Catalonia's right to self-determination. The CiU's 'number 2' replied that the Spanish Government rejects talks. 

SHARE

30 May 2014 10:30 PM

by

ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- On Thursday and Friday, several messages were sent from business circles and the Spanish Socialist Party aimed at negotiating a Constitutional Reform to find a better accommodation of Catalonia within Spain. However, on Friday afternoon, the Spanish Deputy-Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, once again closed the door to such a Constitutional Reform saying there was "no consensus". In the morning, the President of Spain's largest business owners association CEOE, Juan Rosell, stated that "laws are not immortal" and "can be changed to adapt to reality". The day before, the President of the Cercle d'Economia business lobby, Anton Costas, came out in support for "a legal" consultation vote "agreed with Spain", but asked the Catalan President, Artur Mas, "to give dialogue a second chance" and talk to reform the Constitution if necessary. On Friday, the Secretary General of the PSOE, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, stated that such a Constitutional Reform should be negotiated among the governing People's Party (PP), the PSOE and Catalonia. However, Rubalcaba's reform would not recognise Catalonia's right to self-determination nor its nationhood status. The 'number 2' of the Centre-Right pro-Catalan State Coalition, currently running the Catalan Government (CiU), Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, stated: "the problem is that some people have no interest at all in talking", referring to the PP and the Spanish Government. In addition, Duran i Lleida – who personally opposes independence but defends Catalonia's right to decide on its own future – warned that a Federal Constitutional Reform not recognising Catalonia's nationhood and specificities would be a failure. "I do not want to leave Spain, but I do not want to stay at the price of deforming my personality, which is what is happening lately", stressed the CiU's Spokesperson at the Spanish Parliament.


Between the 29th and 31st of May, the Cercle d'Economia business and economics lobby and think tank is carrying out its debate days, which take place each year at the coastal Catalan town of Sitges, some 30 minutes drive from Barcelona. This event is one of the main get-togethers of the business elite and economics academia at Spanish level, with the presence of CEOs, business association leaders, Spanish and Catalan Ministers, as well as academic experts. This year, Catalonia's self-determination and its independence vote is at the centre of the debate.

"Give dialogue a second chance" 

At the opening session on Thursday, the President of the Cercled'Economia, the veteran Economics Chair at the Universitat de Barcelona (UB), Anton Costas, asked the President of the Catalan Government and CiU leader, Artur Mas, "to give dialogue a second chance" in order to find a negotiated way out of the current "Catalan problem", "which is also a Spanish problem", he added. Costas insisted that "political time" can be created and rejected the idea that it is now too late to talk. He declined to represent the so-called "third way", which are those opposing independence but also promoting a change of the current status quo  in order to find a better accommodation of Catalonia within Spain. However, his arguments were all pointing towards this way out of the problem. Costas stated that a consultation vote "is valid", "if it always respects the legal framework" and people are well "informed" about the consequences of their vote. In this sense, he was supporting such a vote previously negotiated within Spain. However, for this, "dialogue" deserves "a second chance" and this might involve the modification of the Constitution, he added.

The Spanish Government is mostly responsible for the uncertainties of Catalonia's self-determination

The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, was chairing the opening session and he replied to Costas. Mas repeated that he is willing to talk, as he has already said on many occasions. However, he also pointed out that the Spanish Government is not willing to talk and is aiming to block the self-determination vote. In this vein, the Catalan President asked the Spanish PM "not to block the consultation vote carried out according to a law from the Catalan Parliament, if they are not able to negotiate such a vote with us". Mas asked Rajoy not to "mind in our own business". The Catalan President also recognised that the self-determination process is creating "uncertainties", although these uncertainties are created by how the Spanish Government is dealing with the issue. According to Mas, if the Spanish Executive was acting like the British Government and negotiating a self-determination vote and talking on an agreed way out of the current conflict, then uncertainties would have been considerably reduced. However, he also admitted that "there is also a certain degree of uncertainty in the complicated and complex decisions".

The PSOE want to negotiate the Constitutional Reform with the PP and the CiU 

On Friday, the Secretary General of the PSOE, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, insisted once again on his party proposal to reform the Constitution in order to develop a true federal Spain. In this new territorial model, Catalonia should find a better accommodation and should have its powers of self-government fully respected. According to Rubalcaba, this reform should be negotiated between the PSOE, the governing PP and the CiU, which runs the Catalan Government.

However the PSOE's Constitutional Reform would not recognise Catalonia's right to self-determination nor its nationhood status, meaning that Spain would not be fully recognised as a pluri-national State (such as the United Kingdom, for instance). Currently the Constitution negotiated with the Franco regime states that Spain is "formed of nationalities and regions", without mentioning them. The word "nationality" was a concession to the military and Spanish nationalists controlling power in order not to put in black on white that Spain was a pluri-national State and that besides the Spanish nation there was the Catalan and the Basque. This concession was done in order not to derail the democratisation process, with the implicit promise that once democracy had been consolidated, Spain would slowly recognise itself as a pluri-national state and Catalonia would have its nationhood status fully recognised. However, this never happened. In fact, the contrary happened, and now the PSOE is insisting on not recognising Catalonia's nationhood, knowing this hits Spanish nationalist voters and that the PP would not accept it.

The CiU replies that it is the PP and the Spanish Government who do not want to talk

Next to Rubalcaba sat the 'number 2' of the CiU and its Spokesperson in the Spanish Parliament, Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida. Duran i Lleida stated that "President Mas totally agrees on sitting [around a negotiating table] and talking amongst everyone", referring to talking about negotiating a Constitutional Reform. At this point, Duran i Lleida emphasised that "the problem is that some people have no interest at all in talking. "This is the problem", he added, referring to the PP and the Spanish Government. He also insisted that the CiU has stressed its will to talk on many different occasions and to many different people. "We have said this, in many different ways, to the Spanish Prime Minister and to you [Pérez Rubalcaba] as well", he added. However, "it is the Spanish PM – who has a greater responsibility – who is the one who has to sit and talk" concluded Duran i Lleida.

In addition, the CiU's 'number 2' also warned against a poor Constitutional Reform, reproducing the generalisation of the Autonomous Communities model to solve Catalonia's singularity. "This road might be too broad for some and too thin for Catalonia", he said. Furthermore, Duran i Lleida – who personally opposes independence but defends Catalonia's right to decide on its own future – warned that a Federal Constitutional Reform not recognising Catalonia's nationhood and specificities would be a failure. "I do not want to leave Spain, but I do not want to stay at the price of deforming my personality, which is what is happening lately ", said the CiU's Spokesperson at the Spanish Parliament.

The Spanish Government closes the door to negotiating and asks Mas to abandon self-determination plans

Before all those messages, after the weekly Cabinet meeting, the Spanish Deputy-Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, once again closed the door to a Constitutional Reform, as the Spanish Government and the PP have already done on several occasions. "There is no consensus", according to them. Since the PP holds an absolute majority in the Spanish Parliament with 53% of the sitting MPs and the PSOE has 31% of the MPs, both parties currently control around 85% of the parliamentary seats. A Constitutional Reform could only pass if the PP and PSOE reached an agreement, but the PP believes "there is no consensus". In 2011, the Spanish Constitution was reformed in less than a month to introduce limitations to the levels of public debt and deficit, following instructions from the EU institutions and foreign governments such as that of Germany. The Spanish Deputy-PM also criticised the Catalan President for insisting "every single day" upon the self-determination vote and "creating confusion", since the vote will never take place, according to her.

SHARE

  • From left to right: Duran i Lleida, Costas and Pérez Rubalcaba (by R. Garrido)

  • From left to right: Duran i Lleida, Costas and Pérez Rubalcaba (by R. Garrido)