Catalan Government feels “stronger” after the European elections and asks Rajoy to talk
The Spokesperson for the Catalan Executive, Francesc Homs, today stated that the results of the European elections and the turnout increase in Catalonia make the ruling cabinet feel “stronger”. “It is clear that the political project managed [by the Catalan Government] has great support”, he said. The centre-right pro-Catalan state coalition Convergència i Unió (CiU), which runs the Executive, increased its support by 100,000 additional votes compared to the 2009 elections, although its percentage of the vote did drop slightly from 22.4% to 21.9% due to a higher turnout. Overall, parties supporting this November’s independence vote obtained more than 55% of the votes cast, while those totally opposed to self-determination lost out, receiving less than 16% of the votes. For this reason, Homs asked the Spanish PM, Mariano Rajoy, to start talking again about how to authorise a self-determination vote.
Barcelona (ACN).- The Spokesperson for the Catalan Executive and Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, stated on Tuesday that the results of last weekend’s elections for the European Parliament and the turnout increase in Catalonia make them feel “stronger”. “It is clear that the political project managed [by the Catalan Government] has great support”, he stated. The centre-right pro-Catalan state coalition Convergència i Unió (CiU), which runs the Government, increased its support by 100,000 additional votes compared to the 2009 elections, although its percentage of the vote dropped from 22.4% to 21.9% due to a higher turnout. Overall, the parties supporting November’s independence vote in Catalonia obtained more than 55% of the votes, while those totally opposed to self-determination independence saw their support diminish, obtaining a vote share of less than 16% combined. For this reason, Homs asked the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to once again talk about how to authorise a self-determination vote. Homs underlined that the elections had been “a parenthesis”, since “some were afraid to talk, even if it was done discretely, as they feared being discovered”.
The Catalan Government asked Rajoy to “carefully read the results [in Catalonia], without frivolity, because there is nothing worse than living in a lie”. In stating this, Homs was responding to comments made by the Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister, José Manuel García Margallo, who stated on Tuesday morning that “support for independence had reached its ceiling”, since despite calls from pro-independence organisations and parties, only 47.4% of Catalan citizens had voted and indeed many of them cast their vote in favour of anti-independence parties. In fact, Margallo was literally assuming that “all the independence supporters” had gone to vote, as the Spanish Minister said. According to Homs, this is false and the elections results need to be carefully analysed.
The left-wing independence party Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) won last Sunday’s elections, with 23.7% of the votes cast; the first time this party had won an election in the 37 years of democracy. Indeed, the last time it won was in the 1930s. The CiU came second in the poll, accounting for 21.9% of votes cast, a slight decrease on its 2009 performance, despite in fact gaining 100,000 additional votes in 2014. This is because more than 500,000 more voters turned out on Sunday when compared to the number for the 2009 European elections, which registered an extremely poor turnout of 36.94%. This year turnout reached 47.4%, while in Spain it reached 45.4% and decreased in many Autonomous Communities. Furthermore, the Catalan green socialist and post-communist coalition Iniciativa per Catalunya-Verds Esquerra Unida i Alternativa (ICV-EUiA), which also supports self-determination, increased its support to 10.3% of the vote and overtook the People’s Party (PP) as the 4th largest force in Catalonia.
Parties against self-determination obtained less than 16% of votes
On top of this, Spain’s two main parties, the PP - currently in government in Spain – and the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) lost 5 million votes compared to 2009 European elections and obtained a combined total of less than 50% of the votes. The PP obtained 26.1% of the votes at Spanish level. In Catalonia it got only 9.2% of the votes cast, whereas in 2009 it had obtained 18%. In addition, it now becomes the 5th largest party in Catalonia, a somewhat marginal position. The other party who strongly opposes self-determination, the anti-Catalan nationalism and populist party Ciutadans (C’s) also fared badly, obtaining only 6.2% of votes cast in Catalonia. Both the PP and the C’s built their campaign around mobilising voters against self-determination, calling on them to stop this process with their votes. Combined they obtained 15.4% of the votes in Catalonia, with a 47.4% turnout.
The Catalan Government asks Rajoy to negotiate
With these figures in mind, Homs stated that the self-determination process is now stronger. He also called for the Spanish Government to listen to the demands from Catalan citizens. For these reasons, he asked PM Rajoy to begin talks again. According to Homs, “it is not important” who makes the first step, but underlined that the Spanish and Catalan authorities need to once again sit around the negotiating table. “It is not about tactical moves” but about actually talking, since the electoral “mandates are clear”. According to Homs, now that the elections have taken place this may be easier, since a few weeks ago “some” were afraid of being discovered and for this reason rejected talks. The Catalan authorities have insisted on many occasions on their wish to talk about everything, even concerning the question wording and date of the self-determination vote. However, they insist that discussing the self-determination vote is the reason for the negotiations, since in November 2012 Catalans voted massively in favour of parties promising the organisation of such a vote this term and there is therefore already an electoral mandate from the Catalan people in this sense.
The Spanish Government sees things differently and is asking the Catalan authorities to give up all their demands on self-determination in order for talks to begin. Rajoy’s condition it to have Catalan representatives to abandon their plans to hold a self-determination vote beforehand, as otherwise the Spanish Government will continue with its ‘no-to-everything’ attitude, blocking all sort of negotiated way out. The problem is that Rajoy’s condition means denying from the start the central demand of a majority of the Catalan people.