Mas and Junqueras open to civil society list
The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, said Wednesday that his June proposal for civil society groups to lead a unitary electoral list "does not at all break" the pact made in January between the CDC and ERC to run separately in the 27-S elections. The leader of the centre-right CDC argued that if civil society groups accept his proposal, civil society "won´t just invite the CDC and Mr. Mas" but "whomever they want" because the list would be "transversal". After Mas made these comments, the President of the centre-left ERC said if civil society groups drafted an electoral list excluding politicians altogether, the ERC would be the "first to accept" their proposal, as long as other independence parties also decide not to run for election. "We will never be an obstacle", Junqueras remarked.
Barcelona (ACN) – The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, said Wednesday that his June proposal for civil society groups to lead a unitary electoral list "does not at all break" the pact made in January between the CDC and ERC to run separately in the 27-S elections. The leader of the centre-right CDC argued that if civil society groups accept his proposal, civil society "won´t just invite the CDC and Mr. Mas" but "whomever they want" because the list would be "transversal". After Mas made these comments, the President of the centre-left ERC said if civil society groups drafted an electoral list excluding politicians altogether, the ERC would be the "first to accept" their proposal, as long as other independence parties also decide not to run for election. "We will never be an obstacle", Junqueras remarked.
The President of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), Jordi Sànchez, and the President of Òmnium Cultural, Muriel Casals, celebrated the proposal made Wednesday by Junqueras, although they avoided giving their verdict on its content. "We positively value the gesture made by the ERC to seek common ground that reinforces the idea of a referendum", Sànchez said, later pointing out that the leadership of the ANC will wait for their partners in deciding the internal consultation before making a decision. However, Junqueras later said he holds firm that "the best formula is the pact from 14 January", mainly because the idea of an electoral list comprised only of members of civil society is hypothetical since no one has officially made that proposal.
The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, defended his proposal to pro-independence organisations set forth in June asking for a unitary electoral list led by civil society groups, who could choose members of political parties if they wanted. He said in a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday that his latest proposal is "radically different" from the one proposed in January, which recommended that all pro-independence parties run together for the 27-S, but with a large part of civil society and independents represented. That idea, however, was rejected by political parties in favour of separate part lists so voters could pick between left- and right-wing politicians.
Mas said he "does not demand the ERC to make a coalition" but rather that he invites pro-independence entities to "promote the greatest unity for the whole of Catalonia". The President underlined that the composition of the proposed unitary list would be up to civil society, which would most likely include a broad range of pro-independence groups since they are "transversal". "If they do it, it will be because they want to, and they will invite whomever they want on the lists, not just the CDC and Mr. Mas", he said.
The fate of Mas' proposal, in the hands of civil society
Mas pointed out that his invitation is "to organisations, rather than to political parties". According to the CDC leader, leading the list is a "free choice" for civil society groups. "I cannot force anybody", he said. However, this scenario can only come to fruition if civil society entities accept his offer. At the moment, the groups – the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI), the ANC and Òmnium – are in the process of an internal review to decide whether they would like to take the lead in the September elections. The three organisations will present their respective decisions this Friday and Saturday.
The executive of the ANC posed this question: "Do you want the ANC to seek the necessary involvement with other organisations and political parties to promote a proposed election with the highest level of cross-party collaboration, guaranteeing the plebiscitary character of the 27-S that would bring Catalan independence?" Answering "yes" would signify support for governing unity of action in the 27-S.
Although the ANC has not identified whether their agreement to directly participate would translate into forming a unitary list like Mas proposed, one of the specifications laid out in the case of a "yes" vote would be for there to be as few pro-independence lists as possible. In any event, the organisation stated their preference would be that everyone on the separatist front ran under a "common brand".
ERC will pull out of 27-S if necessary
The President of the ERC, Oriol Junqueras, has held fast in his opinion that he does not wish for the political left and right to run together on a unitary electoral list, even if it were comprised primarily of members of civil society. On 14 January he and Artur Mas planned elections with different separatist candidacies and where pro-independence organisations would stay neutral, and he has refrained from public comment on alternative proposals since.
Despite Junqueras' aversion to putting members of his party alongside those from the right wing, in an interview with Onda Cero, he reinforced his confidence in civil society groups, indicating he is prepared to withdraw the candidacy of the ERC from the 27-S elections if organisations promote a list without politicians altogether. "Generally, if a proposal of this type is made and is accepted by everyone, we will also accept it. We will be the first to accept it", he said.
"My political future and that of ERC deputies is absolutely irrelevant compared with the collective political future of this country", Junqueras added. "If we have to step aside to help a civilian list, so be it", he continued. Junqueras guaranteed that this candidacy "to make independence" would have total support from the Left.
The President of the ANC, Jordi Sànchez, and the President of Òmnium Cultural, Muriel Casals, both praised Junqueras for his commitment to independence. "We positively value the gesture made by the ERC to seek common ground that reinforces the idea of a referendum", Sànchez said. Casals concurred, saying "any movement by any political representative that runs on the principle of the highest possible unity makes us glad". However, neither Sànchez nor Casals would give their opinion on the merits of Junqueras' gesture since both are waiting on their organisations' internal reviews to decide to what extent they will be involved in the elections.
The end goal is independence
Until the joint response to the multiple proposals coming from political parties arrives from pro-independence organisations, the ANC and Òmnium will continue working on mobilisations planned for this summer and for 11 September with the objective of raising citizens' awareness for the importance of independence. In fact, Casals underlined that the entities "do not make lists or present themselves for election, but rather work so that the result of the 27-S is a firm "yes" in favour of independence".
If there were a unitary list sans-politicians as Junqueras mentioned, the people involved in this independence candidacy "would make up the Parliament, end the structures of the State and make the declaration of independence", making the plebiscitary character of the 27-S clear and legitimising the choice of the Catalan people. "They would call constitutional elections to choose the first Parliament of a new, independent republic", Junqueras said. Political parties would return to an electoral contest in these constituent elections, which should culminate in a referendum to ratify the new State's Constitution.
On the other hand, as this is a hypothetical scenario, Junqueras reverted once again to defending the 14 January agreement as the best way to ensure a pro-independence majority in Parliament. "The best formula is the pact from 14 January. Now, if all of civil society poses a list comprised only of people from civil society, without politicians, I am sure the members of the ERC would not be an obstacle", he remarked.