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Catalan President calls for pro-independence supporters to pull together

“Unity gives us strength as a country”, stated Artur Mas, President of the Catalan Government, in the New Year’s official speech, which is broadcast annually on 30 December. Mas emphasised that “the [Spanish] State wants us to be divided”, because this way “we are weaker and more vulnerable”. The Catalan President makes this statement in the middle of the talks he is carrying out with the opposition left-wing independence party ERC in order to decide whether to run together in early elections that should be transformed into a ‘de facto’ independence referendum. However, the left-wing ERC is reluctant to run with Mas and members of the centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, which he leads. In his address, Mas also spoke in praise of the symbolic independence vote held on 9 November, which was “an exercise of democracy”, which “should call for dialogue and negotiation, instead of criminal prosecutions”.

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30 December 2014 10:59 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- “Unity gives us strength as a country”, stated Artur Mas, President of the Catalan Government, in the New Year’s official speech, which is broadcast annually on the evening of 30 December. Mas emphasised that “the [Spanish] State wants us to be divided”, because this way “we are weaker and more vulnerable”. The Catalan President makes this statement in the middle of the talks he is carrying out with the opposition left-wing independence party ERC in order to decide whether to run together in early elections that should be transformed into a ‘de facto’ independence referendum. However, the left-wing ERC is reluctant to run with Mas and members of the centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, which he leads. In his address, Mas also spoke in praise of the symbolic independence vote held on 9 November, which was “an exercise of democracy”, which “should call for dialogue and negotiation, instead of criminal prosecutions”. The Catalan President, the Vice President and the Education Minister have been prosecuted by the Spanish authorities for authorising and co-organising the non-binding vote. In his New Year’s speech, Mas added that he will not hesitate in “personally taking the decisions” that are best to ensure “the steps we have to take as a country”, referring to Catalonia’s self-determination. The Catalan President also highlighted that jobs have been created “in a sustained” way during 2014. Mas also emphasised the fight against social inequalities as one of the main challenges ahead, and insisted on the need to improve transparency and fight corruption.


Catalonia is currently facing “a decisive and transcendent” moment, stated Mas, in the middle of the debate about its potential independence from Spain. The Catalan President called those supporting self-determination and independence to join efforts, as “unity gives us strength as a country”. Since the Spanish Government wants the main Catalan parties to be divided on this issue, “we should be very aware of this, take note and act consequently”. This was a veiled message to the Social-Democrat ERC, who is reluctant to run together with Mas and members of the CiU – namely the Liberal party CDC – in early elections. The ERC wants any such elections to take place immediately, but it would prefer to run separately in order to also address social issues and not only those strictly related to self-determination and independence.

However, according to Mas, the symbolic vote held on 9 November offers the lesson that when parties, civil society organisations and citizens unite their efforts, the resulting combination is stronger. In addition, “it allows us to better tell the world what we want” and “it gives us morale for victory”.

2014 has been a year with “important changes”. “For the first time in three centuries, the Catalans who wanted to do so were able to cast a vote on the country’s political future”, which was a vote on “Catalonia’s political freedom”. “We had never gone so far”, Mas emphasised. The Catalan President praised the non-binding vote, which took place “despite prohibitions and the [Spanish] State’s full machinery being activated against it”.

According to Mas, the 9 November vote was “an exercise of self-affirmation, respect, democracy and free opinion in liberty”. The Catalan President added that, in the 21st century, such a vote should be “normal instead of an exception”. He also regretted the use of criminal prosecution mechanisms against him and other members of the Government he leads by the Spanish authorities for authorising such a peaceful and non-binding vote. “This means that something is not working” in Spain, he concluded.

Furthermore, 2014 has also been a year that “has created employment and jobs in a sustained way”. Indeed, unemployment has decreased each month during 2014 in relation with the equivalent period in 2013. This means that Catalonia is “heading in a good direction”, stated Mas. 2015 should be a year “to confirm and increase” this trend.

Mas also stated that “the crisis is not gone yet”, since many people are still without jobs and in need. However, “with the efforts and energy of many, we are recovering from it”. In this vein, the Catalan Government will “continue to work to fight inequalities, defend the basic public services and help to create new opportunities”, he said.

In a year which saw numerous significant corruption scandals, Mas also wanted to insist on the need “to foster transparency and good practices in the public sector”. In addition, he underlined his “commitment to make things better, fight irregularities and bad practices”. On a final note, he highlighted the obligation to deal with public resources with “the same care as if they were ours, because they belong to all of us”.

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  • The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, during the New Year speech (by J. Bedmar)

  • The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, during the New Year speech (by J. Bedmar)