Catalan Parliament supports Puigdemont’s legitimacy as president
Unionist Ciutadans will appeal in Spain's Constitutional Court, arguing their rights were violated in a tense and controversial plenary session
The Catalan Parliament supported legitimizing Carles Puigdemont as president. In a plenary session on Thursday morning, the pro-independence majority in the chamber passed a motion politically backing the Catalan deposed president in Brussels, although it will have no legal effects. This is thought to be the first step towards the end of the current stalemate in Catalan politics. Currently, parties Junts per Catalunya, Esquerra Republicana and CUP are holding talks to agree on a president and to form a government, which, in theory w,ill put an end to direct rule from Madrid.
The plenary session, though, was tense and controversial. The CUP party had registered some amendments to a motion which included mentions to the declaration of independence. Ultimately, the most disputed amendments were withdrawn after Spain’s attorney general threatened taking legal action if they were voted on. Yet, the text does say that the chamber has a majority of lawmakers willing to take “a Republican (pro-independence) government policy, and to establish an independent Catalonia.”
JxCat: Spain’s “authoritarian drift”
In the debate, Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) flatly rejected the measures taken by the Spanish government on Catalonia’s self-rule. MP Quim Torra branded them as “unlimited despotism” that were however “not at all enlightened” and he also used the expressions “repression” and “authoritarian drift” to refer to these unprecedented measures in place since last October. Torra said that his group is ready to present a “Republican project” to citizens and he believes that “only with a Catalan Republic” Catalonia “will be free and presidents will not be persecuted.”
Esquerra: Rajoy measures “dictatorship”
Esquerra Republicana (ERC) expressed similar views and, as its pro-independence allies, noted that not all the MPs in Parliament were not able to attend the debate, as some of them are in jail, while others “in exile.” Esquerra’s leader in the chamber, Marta Rovira, said that direct rule attacks “the essences of our country” and deemed Rajoy’s measures as those of a “dictatorship.” While urging for direct rule to come to an end, Rovira also claimed that “independence is only a way to achieving a better country.”
CUP: implementing independence
Far-left CUP urged Esquerra and Junts per Catalunya to implement the results of the October 1 referendum and the declaration of independence, despite Spain’s opposition. “Giving up this path is one of the least effective anti-repressive proposals,” said one of its spokespeople, Carles Riera. He also claimed that Spain’s response to the road to secession is “repression and re-centralization.”
C’s: “Stop lying”
In her speech, the leader of unionist Ciutadans (C’s), Inés Arrimadas, accused the pro-independence bloc of “lying” to voters. “Stop lying,” she emphasized. “You will not give a Catalan Republic to citizens,” she added. Indeed, she claimed that in 15 or 20 years, the country will still be part of Spain, and argued that the European leaders have claimed that “nationalism is the antithesis” of Europe.
Socialists: pro-independence parties “heading towards failure”
Amid reports that parties in favor of a Catalan state want to create an authority in Brussels to implement independence, the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) called for “realism.” For their leader, Miquel Iceta, any attempt to “build a parallel reality” is “heading towards failure.” Iceta said that “policies” are not being discussed in the talks for a new executive, while also calling on pro-independence parties to clarify whether they accept the Spanish legal framework. “We have to put an end to saying different things in public and in private.”
PP: “The state stopped your intentions”
The People’s Party (PP) also strongly criticized that Junts per Catalunya, Esquerra and the CUP want to go ahead with their plans for a Catalan state. “You seem to stay stuck in this mistake,” said its leader, Xavier García Albiol, who also commented on the developments which took place last autumn. “Everything was symbolic because the state stopped your intentions,” he said, while also claiming that the parties for a Catalan state “care little about the consequences for the economy and image” of the country as a result of the recent events.
CeC: Recovering self-government
Catalunya en Comú – Podem (CeC), in between pro-independence and unionist blocs, urged pro-independence parties to form a new executive in order to get rid of the direct rule and “recover the self-government.” Its spokesman, Xavier Domènech, said that Sànchez has “legitimacy” to be candidate for president, but this is “not the quickest way” to form a new government. He was referring to the possibility of the Spanish Supreme Court not giving him permission to turn up in Parliament for the investiture debate. Domènech also urged for a new executive to protect the “Catalan schooling system” that Rajoy is considering changing.