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Mas’ appearance before Parliament over 27-S election causes row with opposition

Opposition parties have accused the Catalan President of trying to use the chamber for “electoral purposes”, and the PPC has already rejected attending the debate. Artur Mas will address Parliament “probably” on the 2nd of September, just one week before the electoral campaign kicks off, according to the President of the Catalan Chamber, Nuria de Gispert. His aim is to explain why he called early elections for the 27th of September, which are considered by supporters of independence as a ‘de facto’ referendum on separation from Spain. Mas’ appearance before Parliament has the support of his Liberal CDC and the left-wing pro-independence ERC, but has been criticised by all the other opposition parties.

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26 August 2015 08:23 PM

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ACN / Aleix Moldes

Barcelona (CNA).- The Catalan President, Artur Mas, will appear before Parliament over the 27-S election “probably” on the 2nd of September. The Catalan Parliament Standing Bureau decided on Wednesday to accept Mas’ request to address the chamber to explain why he decided to call early elections. His appearance has the support of his Liberal party CDC and left-wing pro-independence party ERC, but has been criticised by all the opposition parties that reject independence. CDC and ERC are running in the next election on a joint ticket under the name ‘Junts pel Sí’ (Together for Yes). 

 


Opposition parties have criticised Mas’ decision to appear before Parliament, saying that the Catalan President wants to use the opportunity for “electoral purposes”. They warned that citizens are already “totally aware” that they have to go to the polls at the end of next month and stated with regret that Mas should have gone to Parliament before calling the elections to give an explanation as to why he was doing so.

The Catalan President signed on the 3rd of August the decree calling early elections in Catalonia. In a short live speech afterwards, he said that after the constant rejection of the Spanish government to accept a “legal and mutually-agreed vote” on independence, he had no choice but to call an election. “We wanted a consultation vote on our country’s future”, he said, adding that Madrid has “impeded any dialogue and any negotiation”. “In exceptional situations, exceptional decisions are required”, he added, justifying the election. Pro-Yes parties consider the election a ‘de facto’ plebiscite on independence.    

Criticism from the opposition

“It is a partisan use of the chamber”, said socialist MP Eva Granados, adding that Mas, who will not lead the pro-independence ‘Together for Yes’ ticket himself, is trying to use his institutional role to his advantage and push his political option. “What he had to do in Parliament he decided to do on live television”, said the leader of the Green Party, Joan Herrera.

He reiterated that his group sees the appearance as a “partisan” event but added that they will use the opportunity “to explain before citizens” what they consider to be the real reasons behind the election. According to the Green Party, which is running in a joint coalition with Podemos and other left-wing movements, Mas is trying to “hide” from voters after pushing ahead many austerity measures.

Although it is agreed he will continue to be president in case of victory, Artur Mas is fourth on the list of ‘Together for Yes’, led by civil society representatives: former Green MEP Raül Romeva, former president of the civil society pro-independence Catalan National Assembly, Carme Forcadell, and former president of the cultural association Òmnium Cultural, Muriel Casals. The ticket aims to bring together people from different ideologies that favour independence, and also includes the leader of the second-largest party in Parliament, Oriol Junqueras, from left-wing ERC, who is going to be fifth on the list.

The spokesman of the People’s Party of Catalonia, Enric Millo, showed his “total rejection” of Mas’ petition to speak before the chamber. “He has been saying for more than a year why he wants early elections on the 27-S”, he stated. “To use Parliament as an instrument for a specific political cause and with exclusively electoral purposes is a lack of respect for the institution and what it represents”, he added.

The PPC’s candidate for the next election, Xavier García-Albiol, said that his party will not attend the debate with Mas. According to García-Albiol, the appearance will turn Parliament into a “circus” because it will be an “electoral event”. The PPC candidate urged the other opposition parties, especially the Socialists and Ciutadans, to do the same and not attend Mas’ debate.

“We are not surprised. The President has been using Parliament and the Government to benefit the separatist process for the last three years”, said the president of Ciutadans, Albert Rivera, one of the most fiercely anti-independence parties running in the election.

From the Catalan President’s group, MP Jordi Turull said that Artur Mas is giving an explanation to Parliament and therefore showing “great respect” for it. The spokeswoman of the Catalan Government, Neus Munté, justified the decision to appear before Parliament as a way to allow parliamentary groups to put their questions to the President.  

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  • The Catalan President, Artur Mas, in a recent picture with Government spokeswoman Neus Munté (by ACN)

  • The Catalan President, Artur Mas, in a recent picture with Government spokeswoman Neus Munté (by ACN)