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Earthquake among the Catalan Socialists for the self-determination vote

The Mayor of Lleida, Angel Ros, announced he was quitting the Catalan Parliament since he rejects voting against self-determination on Thursday, as imposed by the leadership of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC). 4 other MPs might break from the party lines as well and a 6th one - who had expressed serious doubts - finally announced he would follow the leadership instructions. They represent 30% of the PSC MPs, so their ‘rebellion’ is far from being an anecdote. In fact, the party leadership warned them they might even end up being expelled if they were breaking the ranks on this crucial vote. On Thursday, the Catalan Parliament will vote on an initiative asking the Spanish Parliament to transfer the powers to organise a referendum to the Catalan Government, following Article 150.2 of the Spanish Constitution. This formula – similar to the one used in Scotland – would enable the organisation of a legal self-determination referendum in Catalonia, something the PSC explicitly promised in the last elections but is now rejecting.

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15 January 2014 07:34 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), which is federated to the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and has traditionally been one of the two main political forces in Catalonia, is going through its most delicate hours. 30% of its MPs at the Catalan Parliament have been or are still considering breaking from the party lines, which might end up with the party splitting up. They are extremely uncomfortable with the party leadership’s decision to vote against an initiative asking the Spanish Parliament to transfer to the Catalan Executive the powers to organise a referendum, following Article 150.2 of the Spanish Constitution. This formula – similar to the one used in Scotland – would enable the organisation of a legal self-determination referendum in Catalonia, something the PSC explicitly promised in the last elections but is now rejecting. Despite having been elected by proposing a legal self-determination vote for Catalonia this political term, in the last few months the PSC’s leadership ran away from this promise in order not to split up with the PSOE, which is now totally against self-determination. However, a minority of the party is absolutely against abandoning the explicit support of Catalonia’s right to self-determination and there have been increasing tensions in the party in the last few months. With tomorrow’s vote, the party faces a true earthquake that might end up totally reshaping and narrowing the PSC’s base.


A leading member quits his parliamentary seat

The Mayor of Lleida, Angel Ros, announced on Wednesday he was quitting the Catalan Parliament before Thursday’s vote since he rejects voting against self-determination, as imposed by the leadership of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC). Ros justified his decision by explaining he does not want to directly break the ranks, “being the Mayor of an important city” and therefore creating an “institutional” issue. At the same time, he said he cannot vote against Catalonia’s right to self-determination through a legal mechanism, such as using Article 150.2 of the Spanish Constitution. Ros is a leading figure within the PSC and the only Socialist Mayor of a Spanish Province capital city to have won the last elections by an absolute majority. A year ago, he was one of the candidates to lead the PSC, although he stepped down at the last minute.

5 other MPs have expressed serious doubts

Four other MPs might break from the party ranks as well, but they refused to disclose their decision yet: Joan Ignasi Elena – who leads the most pro-Catalan faction of the party, Marina Geli – former Catalan Minister for Health (2003-2010), Núria Ventura and Rocío Martínez-Sampere. Their final decision is likely to be known during the vote or a few minutes earlier. A 6th MP, Xavier Sabaté (party leader in the Tarragona Province) had expressed serious doubts about voting against self-determination in the last few days. However, quite unexpectedly, this Wednesday he announced he would follow the leadership instructions.

20% of the PSC MPs might be expelled

In fact, the party leadership warned them they might even end up being expelled if they were breaking from the party lines on this crucial vote. The PSC has a total of 20 seats at the Catalan Parliament, its lowest result ever. It has only one more seat than the People’s Party (PP), which had never obtained so many seats. Therefore, the ‘rebellion’ of 6 MPs is far from being an anecdote since the party might break up and they might become the 4th group. Since Sabaté is finally following the leadership’s orders and Ros is leaving the seat to the next person on the party list, in the end, only 4 MPs might break from the party lines and be expelled. This would mean the PSC might end up with only 16 MPs, while in the 1999 and the 2003 elections it got 52 and 42 seats respectively.

Navarro and Rubalcaba hold an urgent meeting

The matter is so worrying that on Tuesday evening, Pere Navarro, Secretary General of the PSC, travelled to Madrid to meet with the PSOE’s leader, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba on Wednesday early morning. It has been announced that they met for half-an-hour and they discussed tomorrow’s vote and the ‘rebellion’ within the PSC, but they have not disclosed any possible agreements.

The PSOE and the PSC are urging the Spanish and Catalan Government to meet

Besides, the Socialists registered this morning a request at the Spanish Parliament to urge the Spanish Government to organise a formal bilateral meeting with the Catalan Executive to discuss the current political situation and explore potential ways out. The formal framework is the so-called ‘Bilateral Commission’ between both Executives, which has to be called by the Spanish Government and has not taken place for more than a year.

This was part of the measures Navarro and Rubalcaba agreed on during their meeting last week in Barcelona. The other one was to propose a broad territorial reform in Spain in order to better fit Catalonia, but the People’s Party – which runs the Spanish Government and holds an absolute majority at the Spanish Parliament – rejected it yesterday.

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  • Rubalcaba (left) and Navarro (right) this Wednesday at the Spanish Parliament (by R. Pi)

  • Angel Ros announcing his decision to quit the Catalan Parliament (by A. Moldes)

  • Rubalcaba (left) and Navarro (right) this Wednesday at the Spanish Parliament (by R. Pi)
  • Angel Ros announcing his decision to quit the Catalan Parliament (by A. Moldes)