Catalan nationalists denounce their exclusion from the King's abdication process and abstain
King Juan Carlos' succession process is not explicitly backed by the Centre-Right pro-Catalan State Coalition Convergència i Unió (CiU), which played a crucial role in Spain's Transition from dictatorship to democracy and guaranteed on many occasions Spain's stability. However, this time, the CiU has decided to abstain in the vote on the Law on Juan Carlos' abdication, as it was announced last week. The CiU accused Spain's two largest parties – the governing People's Party (PP) and the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) – of having excluded them from this and previous processes. The bill was approved on Wednesday by 85% of the Spanish Parliament, but only with the votes from the PP, the PSOE and the Spanish nationalist and populist UPyD. The Catalan and Basque conservative nationalists have abstained, while the left-wing Catalan parties have voted against it. The CiU was an essential part of the consensus of the 1978 Constitution, which once again proves to be broken.
Barcelona (ACN).- King Juan Carlos' succession process is not explicitly backed by the Centre-Right pro-Catalan State Coalition Convergència i Unió (CiU), which played a crucial role in Spain's Transition from the Franco dictatorship to democracy and guaranteed on many occasions Spain's governability and the approval of essential reforms in the last three and a half decades. However, this time, the CiU has decided to abstain in the vote on the Law on Juan Carlos' abdication, as it was announced last week. The CiU accused Spain's two largest parties – the governing People's Party (PP) and the opposition Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) – of having excluded them from this and previous processes, breaking the Constitutional consensus from 1978. The Abdication bill was approved on Wednesday by 85% of the Spanish Parliament MPs, but only with the votes from the PP, the PSOE, the Spanish nationalist and populist UPyD, and two other MPs with links with the PP (UPN and Foro Asturias). The Catalan, Basque and Canary conservative nationalists have abstained, while the rest have voted against the bill, notably the left-wing Catalan parties (except the PSOE MPs). As a side note, the PSOE Basque MP, Odón Elorza, has decided to abstain following his conscience, despite the fact his party had instructed its MPs to support the bill or be punished. Left-wing MPs have insistently asked for a referendum on monarchy or republic, making comparisons with Catalonia's petition to decide on its own collective future.
The CiU was an essential part of the consensus of the 1978 Constitution, which once again proves to be broken.In Spanish democratic history there has never been such an important State operation that did not count on the CiU's support, with the exception of the Constitutional Amendment in August 2011. For instance, the CiU approved José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero's reform package in May 2010, which saved the Spanish Government from falling and destabilising the entire Eurozone, and the CiU approved the PP's Labour Market Reform in February 2012. In addition, it also guaranteed the stability of Felipe González's Cabinet in the economic crisis of 1993 and 1994, and it supported José María Aznar to take office for the first time as Spanish Prime Minister in 1996. On top of this, the CiU has always been a loyal ally to King Juan Carlos, particularly during the first years of democracy and the military coup from February 1981.
CiU's abstention is not against the monarchy but against the Spanish State’s lack of reliability
However, now, the CiU's 'number 2' and Spokesperson at the Spanish Parliament, Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, insisted on Tuesday in the Law's debate that their abstention was not to criticise the monarchy or to support a republican regime, but it was a way to protest about a State that Catalans no longer trust and that has proved to go against Catalonia's interests and not respect agreements. In addition, Duran I Lleida accused the PP and the PSOE of excluding them from the last State operations, such as the Constitutional Amendment in August 2011, which was negotiated and approved in just two weeks by the two main parties. The CiU was only asked for their support at the last minute, once the bill was totally ready; back then they rejected supporting the amendment and highlighted that the Constitutional Consensus had been broken. Back then, the CiU had not given support to Catalonia's independence. "The majority forces in the [Spanish] Parliament have been excluding the CiU for a long while from the development of the Transition and the Constitution", stated Duran i Lleida.
The Catalan President refuses to sign a blank cheque
In parallel to the Spanish Parliament's debate in Madrid, in Barcelona, the Catalan Government was answering questions from the Catalan Parliament and a regular control session. When the President of the Catalan Executive, Artur Mas, was asked about the CiU's abstention, he wandered why they had to "blindly trust" the Spanish establishment "if the experience of the last 35 years is what it is?" Mas insisted that "abstention is a totally respectful vote" and also wandered if they were "obliged by law to vote 'yes'?" Finally, the Catalan President accused the PP of having "planted the seed of Spain's fragmentation". "The seeds of what is going on now have been planted by you", Mas told the PP MPs, pointing out how the PP raised signatures throughout Spain against Catalonia's new statute of autonomy in 2005, and how they have fuelled the "Catalanophobia" feelings of Spanish nationalists.
The CiU's internal tensions are significantly increasing
The CiU has historically supported Catalonia's right to self-determination. Since September 2011, it has ambiguously proposed the creation of "a Catalan State", which later could be independent or "confederated" with Spain. In fact, the prospect of Catalonia's total independence from Spain has created increasing tensions within the CiU Coalition since the largest Liberal party, CDC, is mostly in favour of it while the leadership of the smaller Christian-Democrat part UDC – which is led by Duran i Lleida – is against independence and prefers a confederation system. The tensions are so high that many people are speculating that the CiU could split in the next few months or even weeks, after more than 3 decades of forming a strong coalition that has dominated Catalan politics and has been a crucial player at Spanish level.
Duran i Lleida's possible resignation
In the last few days, Duran i Lleida's possible resignation as the CiU's Secretary General and the coalition's 'number 2' has been confirmed as a possibility being seriously considered by the Christian-Democrat politician. However, nothing has been officially decided yet. Duran i Lleida explained that he was considering resigning because of the lack of understanding found in the Madrid's establishment of his attempts to build a "third way" between the current status quo and independence, an alternative that would give Catalonia more power and recognition but would keep it within Spain. The Christian-Democrat leader insisted that his possible resignation had nothing to do with the CiU's abstention regarding the King's abdication. However, Duran i Lleida would like to continue being the CiU's Spokesperson in the Spanish Parliament in case he resigned as the coalition's Secretary General. This possibility caused some controversy within the CiU, and particularly among some prominent personalities of the Liberal CDC supporting independence, who consider that Duran's insistence of the "third way" is damaging the coalition's credibility to lead Catalonia's self-determination process.