Catalan government to launch national debate in 2023 on potential independence referendum

President Pere Aragonès urges political parties to support next year's spending plan during address on Saint Stephen's day

Catalan president Pere Aragonès during his Saint Stephen speech on December 26, 2022 at Catalonia's National Library
Catalan president Pere Aragonès during his Saint Stephen speech on December 26, 2022 at Catalonia's National Library / Arnau Carbonell Vidal
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

December 26, 2022 09:07 PM

December 26, 2022 09:19 PM

The Catalan government will launch a national debate on the way ahead in the independence push, including a potential referendum, in 2023, as president Pere Aragonès announced during a televised speech on Saint Stephen's day. 

Next year, the executive will "drive the debate with Catalan society" to see "when Catalonia has the opportunity to exercise, once again, the right to self-determination."

Speaking from Catalonia's National Library in Barcelona, Aragonès addressed the future challenges of 2023 after thanking healthcare workers for their work during the Covid-19 pandemic and praising the aid Catalans gave to Ukrainians due to the war.


The library from which the president addressed its citizens is also the oldest warehouse of the building, which used to be the former Santa Creu hospital. One of the most representative buildings of the Catalan gothic architectural style. 

Behind the politician, dozens of Catalan literature books well placed, such as poets Joan Maragall, Jacint Verdaguer, and Pere Quart and novelist Mercè Rodorera.

Next year has to be when Catalans choose "in which conditions they can vote again [on their independence] to make sure that all sides feel welcomed and everyone accepts the result," Pere Aragonès said.

In 2023, locals should be able to "map out how the Catalan Quebec-style Clarity Act has to look like," he added.

This "deal," from all sides, will "offer us all the force and the internal legitimacy to defend it against the Spanish government as a whole. A deal in Catalonia that can be explained and recognized internationally," the leader of the executive said.

"It is time to reopen the path," he said.

Answers are all that the politician seeks as "until there is no response, the political clash between Spain and Catalonia will exist," he said before adding that it is the responsibility of all those affected "to build via dialogue, negotiation, and agreements a democratic path."

All these future steps on a potential independence referendum could not have been set without the recent approval of the Spanish congress and senate to erase the crimes of sedition from the Penal Code, as the leader recognized.

"It is clear that dialogue and negotiations to solve the political conflict have started to give its results," Aragonès told viewers.

In the past, authorities believed it was impossible to erase this crime and modify the crime of misuse of public funds, but these have been changed. Both were why Catalan pro-independence leaders were convicted after organizing the 2017 self-determination vote.

"We are moving forward," Aragonès said before adding that it is time to "look for a solution to Spain's incapacity of giving a response to the vast majority of Catalans that wish to democratically, freely, and peacefully decide the future of their territory."

"A lot of us want to decide, and we will decide independence," he added.

2023 spending plan

Instead of the start of 2022, Catalonia will not see a new spending plan on January 1, 2023 in place. While the executive has finished working on the draft, and they signed a deal with the anti-austerity En Comú Podem party, they are still lacking support from either the Socialists or Junts.

The latter one, the pro-independence party, was, until early October, the junior coalition partner but decided to quit the cabinet after an internal vote. Since then, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya has been the solo governing group.

Currently, budget has still to be approved, and Aragonès urged politicians "to be up to par and to make possible that a new budget gets green-lighted in parliament."

"It is important to move forward with this spending plan and for citizens to benefit from it from day one," he said before adding that "we are just lacking political will."

The new plan will see €1 billion for the public healthcare system.