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CUP asks to “rebuild bridges”, Puigdemont is sceptical

The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, rebuffed on Thursday a request by the radical left-wing party CUP to “rebuild bridges” of trust after their veto of the 2016 draft budget bill. “The best bridges are those that you do not burn”, he said in a plenary session in the Catalan Parliament. The Catalan Government, led by the pro-independence coalition ‘Junts pel Sí’, expected the parliamentary support of the anti-capitalists following an agreement between the two parties in January that saw former Catalan President Artur Mas stepping aside and Puigdemont taking office. But CUP presented an amendment to the budget bill, the most important law of the parliamentary term, thus making it impossible for the Government to pass it. Following this, Puigdemont announced he will submit himself to a vote of confidence in September. CUP MP Mireia Boya said that the pro-independence forces should “rebuild bridges” from “today”, adding that the anti-capitalists feel “responsible but not guilty” for the current situation. Meanwhile, sources close to the Government suggested to the CNA that Puigdemont will use the summer to widen support for his government and depend less on CUP.

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09 June 2016 06:24 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (CNA).- The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, regretted CUP’s aim to “rebuild bridges” with the Government following the anti-capitalists veto of the draft budget. “The best bridges are those that you do not burn”, he said in a plenary session in the Catalan Parliament on Thursday. The Catalan Government, led by the pro-independence coalition ‘Junts pel Sí’, expected the parliamentary support of the anti-capitalists following an agreement between the two parties in January that saw former Catalan President Artur Mas stepping aside and Puigdemont taking office. But CUP presented an amendment to the budget bill, the most important law of the parliamentary term, thus making it impossible for the Government to pass it. Following this, Puigdemont announced he will submit himself to a vote of confidence in September. CUP MP Mireia Boya said that the pro-independence forces should “rebuild bridges” from “today”, adding that the anti-capitalists feel “responsible but not guilty” for the current situation. Meanwhile, sources close to the Government suggested to the CNA that Puigdemont will use the summer to widen support for his government and depend less on CUP.


The vote of confidence on the Catalan President in September may imply a renegotiation of the roadmap of the current government, which was expected to create the structures of an independent state within 18 months, to then call constituent elections and draft a constitution for an independent Catalonia to be validated at the ballot box. This, of course, in the absence of an offer from Spain, in which case the Government would negotiate with Madrid a Scottish-style referendum.

CUP said the plan was unfeasible and asked Puigdemont to organise instead a unilateral referendum on independence, something that Puigdemont did not directly reject. However, he reminded his former allies that an agreed referendum has always been his priority. “It is obvious that the roadmap for Catalonia has to be decided in the Catalan Parliament, and a mandate (for independence) given by 2 million people doesn’t have to wait or stop because the Spanish State systematically refuses to engage in our preferred option, which is an agreed referendum”, Puigdemont pointed out.  

The new roadmap, to be voted upon in September, will have a clear calendar and include a ‘plan B’, within which a unilateral referendum could be envisaged. Although Puigdemont “doesn’t have any interest” in completing a four-year term, sources close to the President said his mandate might run beyond the initially planned 18-month limit.

The CUP MP Mireia Boya insisted on the need for a unilateral referendum on independence. “It’s better to do what we need to do, rather than to wait for what will never come”, she said, referring to a hypothetical offer from the Spanish government. “We do not renounce the referendum, nor unilaterality”, she stressed. According to this anti-capitalist MP, a unilateral consultation could be the best option for those that want Catalans to have the right to decide their future, amongst which she included Podemos and other left-wing parties in Catalonia. They, she hoped, would realise after the upcoming Spanish election that Madrid will never negotiate with Catalonia.

Puigdemont said that the situation will change depending on who wins the Spanish election, scheduled for the 26th of June. The Catalan President added that his new mandate, to be voted upon in Parliament in the second half of September, will be his real investiture, as he will be able to design the plan. In January, when he assumed office, Puigdemont basically inherited a roadmap created by former President Artur Mas.

Opposition parties urge Puigdemont to change his strategy

The rest of the parties in the Catalan Parliament asked Puigdemont to forget about independence. The leader of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), Miquel Iceta, stated that Puigdemont has suffered a “severe political defeat” because of the budget veto and the break-up of the agreement with the CUP, but warned that the responsibility is solely his for only counting on the support of the anti-capitalists. “You’ve ignored those that represent half of Catalans”, he said, adding however that the Catalan Government now has “an opportunity to change its path”. “Look to the whole country, not only to half”, he insisted to Puigdemont. The Catalan President replied that the PSC also closed the door to dialogue by presenting an amendment to his budget.

The leader of the ‘Catalunya Sí que es Pot’ (CSQP) coalition, Lluís Rabell, also urged Puigdemont to change his strategy because the current roadmap towards independence is, according to him, “unfeasible”. Rabell said his left-wing party, which includes Podemos, will give support to the Catalan government if it focuses on the “right to decide”, has a more “social” strategy and rejects “stagnation”. The Catalan President reminded Rabell that 80% of the members of the Catalan Parliament already support the celebration of an agreed referendum but the Spanish government keeps saying ‘no’. If an agreed referendum becomes “unfeasible”, he asked, would CSQP “make feasible a mandate given by 2 million people” in favour of independence?

The unionist and liberal leader of C’s, Inés Arrimadas, regretted the fact that the confidence vote is scheduled for September. “The problems of the Catalan people won’t go on holiday”, she said, adding that Puigdemont only wants “time to remake his party”, liberal CDC. Arrimadas asked ‘Junts pel Sí’ to recognise that they were wrong and “never had a social majority” in favour of independence.

From the conservative People’s Party, Xavier García Albiol said that the independence process “has died”. “The separatist adventure has come to an end”, he celebrated, describing the Parliament in Catalonia as a “circus” and a “soap opera”. García Albiol asked Puigdemont to submit himself to the vote of confidence “now”, to which the Catalan President replied that the current Spanish President has not faced Congress even once since losing his majority in the December elections.

 

 

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  • The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, during the plenary session (by ACN)

  • The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, during the plenary session (by ACN)