Left-wing Catalan independence party ERC backs "civil disobedience" if self-determination vote is banned
The President of the left-wing Catalan independence party ERC, Oriol Junqueras, stated on Tuesday that "the greatest expression of civil disobedience is voting when they prevent you from voting", referring to the ban that the Spanish Constitutional Court is likely to issue on the self-determination consultation vote scheduled on the 9th of November. Furthermore, Junqueras also stated that he is convinced that the Catalan President will call for the vote and "will put out the ballot boxes". He also added that the ERC could sit at the Catalan Executive if this action were to "fully protect the consultation vote". The Spanish Government is totally opposed to such a vote and has already announced that it will appeal to the Constitutional Court, which has a majority of its members directly appointed by the People's Party (PP). The Court already lost most of its legitimacy in 2010 when it trimmed the Catalan Statute of Autonomy.
Barcelona (ACN).- The President of the Left-wing Catalan independence party ERC, Oriol Junqueras, stated on Tuesday that "the greatest expression of civil disobedience is voting when they prevent you from voting", referring to the ban that the Spanish Constitutional Court is likely to issue on the Catalan Law on Consultation Votes and the self-determination consultation vote itself scheduled on the 9th of November. Furthermore, Junqueras also stated that he is convinced that the Catalan President, Artur Mas, will call for the vote and "will put out the ballot boxes" in order to enable Catalans "to exercise their right to vote", which "is a fundamental right". He also added that the ERC could sit at the Catalan Executive if this action were to "fully protect the consultation vote". The governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, including Mas, has made this offer on several occasions in the last year-and-a-half. However, in the last few weeks, leading figures close to the ERC have suggested that a national unity government should be formed this September, in order to pilot the last steps towards November's self-determination vote. The CiU replied by saying that the consultation vote has to be carried out within a legal framework and with enough democratic guarantees. Therefore, according to the governing coalition of Liberals and Christian-Democrats, if the Constitutional Court finally bans November's vote, all the parties supporting it will have to decide together what are the next steps, although the only plan is to vote. Spanish nationalist parties, which represent 20% of the Catalan Parliament, have accused Junqueras of "launching a frontal and indecent attack against democracy that is closer to a dictatorship", as the 'number 2' of the People's Party in Catalonia, Enric Millo, said. The Spokesperson of the populist and anti-Catalan nationalism C's, Carina Mejías, stated that "Junqueras' words have the rank of a coup d'État".
The Spanish Government is totally opposed to Catalonia's self-determination vote and has already announced it will appeal the Constitutional Court, which has a majority of its members directly appointed by the People's Party. The conservative and Spanish nationalist PP runs the Spanish Government, holds an absolute majority at the Spanish Parliament and has a decisive influence on the Constitutional Court, which already lost most of its legitimacy in 2010 when it trimmed the Catalan Statute of Autonomy, approved in 2006 by a binding referendum. The PP is using a restrictive interpretation of the Constitution to not even talk about Catalans' right to self-determination, a demand that is shared by between 75% and 80% of Catalonia's citizens, according to all the opinion polls published in the last two years and the results of the last Catalan elections.
The Spanish Government has been ignoring the mandate from the last Catalan elections
In fact, there is a clear electoral mandate from November 2012 to organise a legal self-determination vote, after 80% of Catalans voted for parties that made such a promise in the electoral campaign. The elections of November 2012 became a plebiscite on self-determination, as it became the reason to call for early elections and it also became the central issue. The elections' turnout was the highest in many years. However, the Spanish authorities rejected to listen to the electoral results and immediately downplayed the voting demand, ignoring or pretending to ignore Catalonia's electoral mandate.
In the last 22 months, instead of listening to the Catalan demands expressed through a democratic election and negotiate accordingly, the Spanish Government has simply repeated that holding a self-determination vote was illegal and therefore impossible, rejecting any further talk about it. In December 2013, a majority of Catalan parties decided not to wait any longer for reaching an agreement with the Spanish Government – which unilaterally excluded itself from any negotiation – and they agreed on organising a self-determination vote in November 2014, 11 months after the agreement and 24 months after the last Catalan elections. Furthermore, in the first half of 2014, Catalan parties worked on finding formulas to involve the Spanish authorities in the process, insisting that the exact question wording and date for the self-determination vote could be modified in order to get Madrid's green light. However, the Spanish establishment has repeated the same negative answer all over again.
Voting is "a fundamental right", states Junqueras
"The right to vote is a fundamental right", argued the ERC leader on Tuesday. "If a law prohibits the most democratic exercise, which is the right to vote, it means that such a law is anti-democratic and people are not obliged to honour a law that goes against the fundamental rights of human beings", added Junqueras. "Fundamental rights are above a court that wants to ban them", he carried on. "We all knew that the Constitutional Court would put out obstacles and that Mariano Rajoy [Spain's Prime Minister] would not exactly jump for joy on our way to the voting station", he said. Junqueras emphasised that the road map towards the 9th of November was already agreed among a majority of parties representing two thirds of the Catalan Parliament, following an electoral mandate. "There is an engagement that has to be honoured, and I am sure that everybody will do so", he concluded.