National Alliance for Self-Determination agrees to focus on ensuring that Catalans can vote
The second meeting of the so-called National Alliance for the Right to Self-Determination of Catalonia (Pacte Nacional pel Dret a Decidir) has agreed to focus their efforts on making it possible for Catalans to vote on their own collective future. More than 1,500 organisations are part of this Alliance, including institutions, political parties, trade unions, business organisations, professional associations, NGOs, cultural organisations and political pressure groups. Not all the participating organisations back independence from Spain, but they all fully support Catalonia’s right to decide on its future as nation. In the last few months, many organisations have joined the Alliance, which had its first meeting in June. On Wednesday they analysed the current situation and have agreed to campaign for the right to hold a free and democratic self-determination vote, putting specific ideologies aside.
Barcelona (ACN).- The second meeting of the so-called National Alliance for the Right to Self-Determination of Catalonia (Pacte Nacional pel Dret a Decidir) has agreed to focus their efforts on making it possible for Catalans to vote on their own collective future. More than 1,500 organisations are part of this Pact, including institutions, political parties, trade unions, business organisations, professional associations, NGOs, cultural organisations and political pressure groups. Not all the participating organisations back independence from Spain, but they all fully support Catalonia’s right to decide on its future as nation. In the last few months, many organisations have joined the Alliance, which had its first meeting in June. On Wednesday they analysed the current situation at a meeting in the Catalan Parliament’s hall, with the direct attendance of 67 representatives. They agreed to campaign for the right to hold a free and democratic self-determination vote in Catalonia, putting specific ideologies aside. However, each member organisation will be free to campaign for independence or any other option, but only on its own behalf. In addition, they have agreed not to criticise those who do not support Catalonia’s right to self-determination. Arguments are to be expressed “in a positive way” and not against anyone, they decided. In addition, the participants will always show a “civic-minded” attitude, underlining the expression “a single people” and “avoiding any statement that can bring division among Catalans”. They also agreed that no money will be allocated for any specific activity but that each organisation and institution will provide the funds for their own activities. The meeting was chaired by the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, sitting next to the President of the Catalan Parliament, Núria de Gispert. Mas did not want to comment on the meeting’s results but just said “it was fine” and that he was “backing Joan Rigol’s statements”.
“We have to work hard to earn” the capability to vote
The Alliance Coordinator, the former President of the Catalan Parliament Joan Rigol, stated that “now we do not have the chance to vote” and therefore “this capability to vote has to be hard-earned”. “We have to work hard to earn it”, insisted the veteran Christian-Democrat politician. Rigol explained that the Alliance will not support independence or any other option, but exclusively the right to self-determination. “We have to earn, first of all, the capability to vote and, once we can vote, then each one of us will decide if he votes for independence or for something else”, stated the widely-respected politician. However, each member organisation is free to campaign for whatever political alternative they might support, but on their own behalf and not on behalf of the Alliance. In addition, Rigol proposed that citizens hang out the Catalan flag on their home balconies during the next Sant Jordi Day (23rd of April), as a peaceful demonstration supporting Catalonia’s right to self-determination.
Rigol also criticised the Spanish authorities’ lack of dialogue and accused the Spanish Government of asking Catalan parties to give up their claims as a condition to start talking. “What makes the dialogue impossible is that they ask us to abandon the commitment to organize a [self-determination] consultation vote”, he underlined. He also added that polls show that “around 80%” of Catalans support self-determination and would like to vote on Catalonia’s political future, regardless whether they support independence or not.
Several employer associations support self-determination
The leaders of the parties participating in the Alliance were satisfied with the meeting. The President of the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC), Oriol Junqueras, and the parliamentary Spokesperson of the Catalan Green Socialist and post-Communist Coalition (ICV-EUiA), Dolors Camats, also highlighted the commitment of a wide range of social, economic and cultural organisations, including several employer associations. Joan Rigol also highlighted that “there were some very positive interventions” in the meeting coming from business associations. “Both the PIMEC [Catalonia’s main small and medium-sized enterprise association] and the CECOT [another SME association], and also the Chambers of Commerce of Catalonia” showed an absolute and complete support for the right to self-determination”, he stressed.
The business associations that are part of the Alliance represent many more companies and a larger share of Catalonia’s economy than Foment del Treball, the employer association grouping large companies, whose President is against independence and refused to participate in the Alliance. Foment, which is part of the Spanish employer association CEOE, stated this week that they would not get involved in the current political debate. However, this is far from being the opinion of all employer and business associations in Catalonia, as was also highlighted yesterday in a reply to CEOE’s and Foment’s statements.
A “plural” Alliance
Dolors Camats particularly emphasised the “plurality” of the Alliance, with an extremely wide variety of participating organisations, which represent a very large share of Catalan society. “What legitimises today the right to self-determination is the plurality existing in the National Alliance”, said the ICV-EUiA Spokesperson. Junqueras also insisted on the “absolute unity” of all participants defending such a right. Furthermore, regarding the specific agreement to hold a self-determination consultation vote on the 9th of November reached by a majority of Catalan parties, the ERC leader said that the issue had not been debated in today’s meeting, although the participants’ support was “implicit”. “Despite our differences in many other aspects, there is a unanimous agreement regarding the need to defend and exercise the right to self-determination and that we can vote on the 9th of November”, stated Junqueras. “Today the [self-determination] process is rich and plural because it belongs to everybody, and not only to those who would vote for one option or another”, he concluded.
The parties opposing self-determination criticise the meeting
The People’s Party (PP), which runs the Spanish Government, criticised the meeting and particularly the Catalan President. The PP Spokesperson, Enric Millo, accused Artur Mas of “digging in his heels”, supporting an “intransigent” stance. The Spanish nationalist party said that Mas “rejects any dialogue” when “he says that talking to the Spanish Government is impossible because he has to give up [organising the self-determination] vote”. “With this way of looking at things” Mas is bringing “the organisations that are part of the National Alliance for the Right to Self-determination to a dead-end”. The anti-Catalan nationalism and populist party Ciutadans (C’s) stated that this Wednesday’s meeting of the Alliance was “a group of friends’ picture”. The C’s Secretary General, Matías Alonso, accused the participants of putting self-determination “above the economic crisis” as a priority. He also said that Rigol’s call to hang out the Catalan flags was a “revolutionary call”, belonging to “fanatical separatists”.