Mas opens the door to other parties to join the government agreement on the investiture debate
The leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) and candidate for re-election to be President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, stated that he will keep the offer he made to the other parties supporting the celebration of a self-determination vote to join the government open until the end of the legislative term. The offer is due to “the hardness of the situation and the magnitude of the challenges to be faced”. The challenges are “the worst part of the economic recession”, “the crisis of public finances” and “the country’s greatest political operation of the last three centuries”. He also called for a summit to agree on the “impassable limits” of the Welfare state, as further budget cuts will be required.
Barcelona (ACN).- On Thursday, the debate about the election of the next President of the Catalan Government kicked off in the Catalan Parliament. Artur Mas, who is the leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) and has been chairing the Catalan Executive for the last two years, has his re-election secured, after the parliamentary stability agreement signed with the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) for the entire legislative term. In his investiture speech, Mas offered the other parties that support the organisation of a self-determination vote the possibility to join the agreement reached with the ERC and even to sit in the Catalan Government. Mas stated he will keep the offer open until the end of the legislative term. He explained that \u201Cthe hardness of the situation and the magnitude of the challenges to be faced advised making such an offer\u201D. These challenges are \u201Cthe worst part of the economic recession\u201D, \u201Cthe crisis of public finances\u201D and \u201Cthe country\u2019s greatest political operation of the last three centuries\u201D. Regarding Catalonia\u2019s self-determination process and the citizen vote, Mas asked all the parties to work together to find a consensus and he has guaranteed that Catalonia\u2019s self-determination process will also be negotiated, completely ruling out a unilateral independence declaration. Besides, regarding the economic recession and the need to reduce the public deficit, Mas announced he will call for a summit with all parties to agree on the \u201Cimpassable limits\u201D of the Welfare state, since further budget cuts will be required despite the new taxes that will be created.
Artur Mas started his speech by clearly announcing his intention to call for a self-determination vote this term to allow the Catalan people to decide on their collective future. Mas, who has been chairing the Catalan Government for the last two years, stated that over this time \u201Cnot a single bridge with Spain has been rebuilt, on the contrary hostilities and attacks against Catalonia\u2019s self-government are each day clearer and more intense\u201D. \u201CCatalonia should accept that Spain does not want to be changed, and it is its right to not want to be changed\u201D, he said. However, \u201CSpain should also accept that Catalonia does not want to be absorbed, nor assimilated or homogenised\u201D, he added. Therefore, following the mandate from the elections celebrated a month ago in which parties supporting a Catalan state obtained 54% of the votes and parties defending the celebration of a self-determination vote within the next term even if the Spanish Government opposes it obtained 64.4%, Mas solemnly announced he \u201Cwill consult the Catalan people about their political and national future\u201D. According to Mas, Catalonia\u2019s self-determination process is required to \u201Cguarantee its economic development, its survival [as a nation and culture] and to strengthen its Welfare State\u201D.
For Mas, Catalonia is about to start \u201Cthe most difficult, the most decisive and the most thrilling term\u201D since democracy was reintroduced after the end of Franco\u2019s dictatorship. According to him, Catalonia is facing 3 main challenges: the worst part of the economic recession\u201D, \u201Cthe crisis of public finances\u201D and \u201Cthe country\u2019s greatest political operation of the last three centuries since Barcelona\u2019s fall in 1714\u201D. This \u201Cpolitical operation\u201D should help Catalonia \u201Cto become a free country among the world\u2019s free nations\u201D. With this point he emphasised that \u201Ca free country\u201D is \u201Cnot an isolated or a self-centred country, but a country whose citizens are those responsible for their own destiny\u201D. Mas lamented that sometimes certain people \u201Ctend to dramatise \u2013 reaching levels of hysteria and ridiculousness \u2013 facts or situations that are very basic; and freedom, at an individual or collective level, is one of those basic and normal facts\u201D.
\u201CIt is not the time for populism and demagogy, and even less for cynicism\u201D, he underlined. The required attitude, according to Mas, is that of \u201Covercoming, not that of resignation\u201D. For this reason he asked for the cooperation of all the parties supporting the call for a self-determination vote. They represent 79.3% of the MPs in the new Catalan Parliament, if the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), which proposes a reform of the Spanish Constitution to allow the referendum, is included. Mas also asked citizens and civil society organisations to participate in the process. \u201CA co-responsibility and co-leadership scenario is needed\u201D, he said. \u201CI appeal to this chamber\u2019s responsibility, all of it, to facilitate a negotiated process, with dialogue, looking for the legal frameworks to back it and with the will to reach a consensus on the procedures to make [the vote] happen\u201D, he emphasised.
Besides, Mas announced that he will call for a summit with all the political parties before approving the Catalan Government\u2019s budget for 2013. The reason is to look for a consensus on which are the \u201Cimpassable limits\u201D of the Welfare State, as further budget cuts will be needed to meet the 0.7% deficit target, imposed by the Spanish Government. Mas emphasised that more budget cuts will be needed despite the creation of new taxes and raising previous ones in order to increase revenue by \u20AC1 billion in 2013. He also added that some of the budget cuts and taxes will be \u201Creversible\u201D once the situation improves. In addition, he underlined that he will negotiate with the Spanish Government to relax the deficit targets for 2013, taking into account the fact that the Autonomous Communities are those managing the Welfare State services almost exclusively.