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Left-wing coalition CSQP agrees to internationally endorsed unilateral referendum

CSQP (Catalonia Yes We Can), a left-wing coalition in favor of holding a referendum but not necessarily independence, says it will support a unilateral referendum if it has 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. Governing cross-party pro-independence coalition Junts Pel Sí celebrated this stance, saying the group “has taken a step forward” by joining those that consider the celebration of a referendum in Catalonia even if it is “without Spain’s permission”.

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27 April 2017 07:06 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (CNA).- CSQP (Catalonia Yes We Can), a left-wing coalition in favor of holding a referendum but not necessarily independence, says it will support a unilateral referendum if it has 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. Governing cross-party pro-independence coalition Junts Pel Sí celebrated this stance, saying the group “has taken a step forward” by joining those that consider the celebration of a referendum in Catalonia even if it is “without Spain’s permission”.


Joan Coscubiela presented the left-wing coalition’s requirements for supporting the celebration of an independence referendum in Catalonia without Spanish approval: an endorsement by the Council of Europe's Venice Commission. Coscubiela said unequivocally that Catalonia “cannot hold an effective referendum with the opposition of the Spanish Government and without international endorsement.” “In that case, it would not be a referendum, but something else,” he stressed.

The CSQP spokesperson suggested this option during a debate in the Catalan Parliament with Vice President Oriol Junqueras. Although Junqueras did not say if the Catalan Government would consider asking the Venice Commission for its endorsement, he did not rule it out.  

His coalition, pro-independence Junts Pel Sí, published a press release saying that the CSQP announcement is an “important step toward being able to fulfill the wish of 80% of the country’s citizens, who think that a referendum is the best tool for deciding Catalonia’s political future.” The pro-independence group’s spokesperson, Marta Rovira, said she is pleased with the increasing “support for the referendum”.

“We are pleased that the referendum is gaining support. That is an important step,” she pointed out, adding that the left-wing coalition and its political sphere “have joined the ‘referendum or referendum’ position, meaning that they are on board in considering a vote as the only option. Rovira said Catalonia’s institutions “are prepared to celebrate an effective referendum with all democratic guarantees”. According to her, the referendum “cannot be subjected to Spain’s will, which has systematically refused to give Catalonia’s citizens a voice”.

The Catalan Government wants to agree on a binding independence referendum with the Spanish government, but Madrid refuses to negotiate. The Catalan executive has promised the electorate that they will hold a vote this year. Thus, if the current stalemate continues, Catalonia might go ahead with a vote without formal permission from Spain. 

The Venice Commission

Regardless of CSQP's offer, the Venice Commission can only write reports at the request of another body of the Council of Europe, a member state, an international organization, or by its own initiative. This means the Catalan Government would not be able to ask directly for the Venice Commission's opinion on the referendum and would have to rely on a petition by the Spanish government, which is unlikely, a body of the Council of Europe, another international organization, or a third country.  

The Venice Commission ‘guidelines’ of good practices for referendums state that any referendum “must comply with the legal system as a whole” and “cannot be held if the Constitution or a statute in conformity with the Constitution does not provide for them”. Therefore, a unilateral referendum against the will of the Spanish government could easily fall outside the recommendations of the Venice Commission. 

 

 

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  • The CSQP spokesperson, Joan Coscubiela, in Parliament (by Bernat Vilaró)

  • The CSQP spokesperson, Joan Coscubiela, in Parliament (by Bernat Vilaró)