Catalan President: “Catalonia and Spain will be more separated” if Catalan demands on the Constitutional amendment are not heard
“It means that we are not wanted, we are excluded, we are ignored” stated Artur Mas, President of the Catalan Government and leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU). It was the first time he has spoken on the Constitutional amendment limiting the public deficit that has been agreed on only between the PSOE and the PP. The CiU has protested against reforming the Constitution solely on the basis of the agreement of only two parties. Members of the PP and the PSOE have been trying to convince the CiU to support what both parties had previously agreed, and PM Zapatero (from the PSOE) asked the CiU to show some “moderation”.
Barcelona (ACN).- The Catalan President, Artur Mas, has sent a clear warning. “Catalonia and Spain will be more separated in all kinds of ways”, “also emotionally”, if Catalan demands on the Constitutional amendment are not listened to. Mas summed up the way Catalan nationalists feel: “It means that we are not wanted, we are excluded, we are ignored”. It is the second warning to come, after the number two of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition ‘Convergència i Unió’ (CiU), Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, told the Spanish Parliament on Tuesday that “a great clash with unforeseeable consequences will finally happen”, causing “consequences that are not wanted by any of us”. The CiU considers that the ruling Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and the main opposition force the People’s Party (PP) have “broken the Constitutional consensus”, as Duran said on Tuesday. The PSOE and the PP have negotiated on their own and agreed on a Constitutional amendment limiting the public deficit in all administrations in Spain, without consulting other parties, utilising an urgent procedure that excludes a referendum. The CiU feels excluded, as its votes have saved crucial reforms and laws –such as the Labour Market Reform or the Deficit Reduction measures– but especially because the CiU was essential in negotiating and approving the Spanish Constitution back in 1978, just after Franco’s dictatorship. However, according to the CiU, their current complaint is not a matter of pride but motivated by the fear that the agreed Constitutional amendment will limit Catalonia’s fiscal autonomy and Catalonia self-governance; in addition it will reduce the room of the Catalan Government to fund its own policies and investments, policies and investments to counter-act a centralist approach frequently pushed by the PSOE and the PP. The CiU fears that the equilibrium between the centralist approach, the federal one and the peripheral nationalism that characterises the Spanish Constitution of 1978 is now broken given that the two centralist parties have excluded others from its reform.
Duran i Lleida sent a first warning on Tuesday. Some member of the PSOE and the PP realised that the Duran’s words were particularly hard considering his moderate profile and typical disposition towards finding a consensus, which has been recognised by all parties on many occasions and also by citizens through several polls. However, the moderate Duran i Lleida was stating before the Spanish Parliament that “a great clash with unforeseeable consequences will finally happen”, causing “consequences that are not wanted by any of us”, highlighting the danger of relations between Catalonia and Spain falling apart. Members of the PP and the PSOE tried to convince the CiU to join the agreement already cooked up among both of the Madrid-based parties. The CiU resisted. And Prime Minister Zapatero intervened, asking the CiU to come back to its characteristic “moderation” and “join the agreement”.
The CiU wants budget austerity as well and has already cut public spending in Catalonia
The CiU finds itself in the dilemma. On one hand it shares the principles of budget austerity and spending control, a proof of that is the reduction in public spending in Catalonia by 10% under the CiU, but it fears that Catalonia will lose autonomy, benefiting a Spanish central power. Therefore, the CiU has proposed amendments to the text agreed upon by the PSOE and the PP. However the two majority parties maintain that they are not open for discussion and will reject any and all changes to the text they have already agreed on. In parallel, other Catalan parties in the Spanish Parliament –the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) and the Catalan Green Socialist Party (ICV-EUiA)– are also against this bilateral agreement, that in addition avoids calling for a referendum.
The Catalan President sends a second warning
In light of all of this, Artur Mas has sent a very clear warning, the second one in two days. “If Catalan amendments are not attended”, Catalonia and Spain will move further away from each other and will be “more separated”. Mas warned the PSOE and PP that, “it is in their interest to listen to and attend to those amendments”, “because if they do not do so, the distances between Catalonia and Spain, including the emotional distance, will grow”. Finally, Mas reflected on the PP and the PSOE agreeing only among themselves on reforming the Constitution, “it means that we are not wanted, we are excluded, we are ignored”.