Catalan president seeks Venice Commission role in referendum

Catalonia’s Government has written a letter to the Commission to inform them about Spain's refusal to negotiate a vote on independence

Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, in Parliament (by ACN)
Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, in Parliament (by ACN) / CNA


May 31, 2017 05:09 PM

The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, has sent a letter to the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission in order to seek its “collaboration” for the celebration of an independence referendum in agreement with Spain. Puigdemont informed the Parliament plenary on Wednesday that he wrote the letter on May 29th explaining the Government’s intention of celebrating the referendum as well as the refusal of Spanish President, Mariano Rajoy, to negotiate it. The Catalan president said in the missive that he was "convinced" that the Catalan issue will be "of interest" to the Venice Commission because of its "political significance" and put himself "at the disposal" of this international body to discuss it further.

At the end of April, the alternative left coalition CSQP, which is in favor of holding a referendum but not necessarily independence, said they would support a unilateral referendum if it had international guarantees. CSQP’s spokesperson, Joan Coscubiela, said that the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe's institution in charge of these kind of processes, has to endorse the referendum before his party can support it. Back then, governing cross-party pro-independence coalition Junts Pel Sí celebrated this position, saying the group had "taken a step forward” by joining those that consider the celebration of a referendum in Catalonia even if it is done “without Spain’s permission”.

During a debate with CSQP, when their leader, Lluís Rabell, reproached the Government for trying to organize the referendum by side-lining the demands of the cross-party National Pact for a Referendum (PNR), Carles Puigdemont confirmed that the Catalan Government had written to the Venice Commission. Puigdemont accused the alternative left coalition of “underestimating the Government” after not attending the meeting he convened on Monday and showed the plenary that he is actually seeking the international collaboration that CSQP asked for. However, the left-wing party said that the letter "does not do" what the resolution from Parliament said. According to Coscubiela, the letter is a "manipulation" because it "only informs" the Venice Commission of the Parliament and Government plans, but does not seek, in their opinion, its direct intervention.