Not all pro-independence parties are willing to join Catalan President’s shared electoral list
Parties supporting the self-determination process have expressed their first reactions to the Catalan President’s offer to run in early elections by sharing the same electoral list and negotiating independence from Spain in a maximum of 18 months, if they obtain an absolute majority. The two-party centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition (CiU), headed by the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, is divided: Mas’ Liberal party CDC wants to join it but the leader of the Christian-Democrat force UDC is sceptical, since he opposes independence. The left-wing Catalan independence party ERC, which tops most of the opinion polls, is thinking about it and its leader, Oriol Junqueras, will make his own proposal next Tuesday. The Catalan Green Socialist and post-Communist coalition (ICV), which supports Catalonia’s self-determination but is divided about whether or not to be independent, rejected Mas’ offer and accused him of forgetting about social and corruption issues. Finally, the alternative left and radical independence party CUP rejected the single list formula.
Barcelona (ACN).- Parties supporting the self-determination process have expressed their first reactions to the Catalan President’s offer to run in early elections by sharing the same electoral list and negotiating independence from Spain in a maximum of 18 months, should they obtain an absolute majority. The two-party centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition (CiU), headed by the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, is divided: Mas’ Liberal party CDC wants to join it but the leader of the Christian-Democrat force UDC, Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida is sceptical, since he opposes independence. The left-wing Catalan independence party ERC, which tops most of the opinion polls, is thinking about it and its leader, Oriol Junqueras, will make his own proposal on next Tuesday. The Catalan Green Socialist and post-Communist coalition (ICV), which supports Catalonia’s self-determination but is divided about whether or not to be independent, rejected Mas’ offer and accused him of forgetting about social and corruption issues. Finally, the alternative left and radical independence party CUP rejected the single list formula. In addition, the main civil society organisations that organised the massive pro-independence demonstrations of 2012, 2013 and 2014, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural, as well as the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI) – which groups town halls, are pleased by Mas’ plan and are open to talking about it and reaching agreements. Besides, the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, who also leads the People’s Party (PP), stated that Mas “is walking towards nothing”.
On Tuesday evening, the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, asked parties to be “generous” and put aside “ideologies” for the “benefit of shared ideals”. He proposed running in a shared electoral list, mixing politicians and prestigious professionals and members of the civil society, which would focus all its electoral promises on building a new independent state. Parties and civil society organizations should transform these early elections into a ‘de facto’ referendum on independence. If this pro-independence and shared list were to obtain an absolute majority, they would work to build an independent state in a maximum of 18 months, after which they would call constituent elections and a citizen referendum to ratify the whole process and the genesis of the newly independent state.
There was a lot of expectation for Mas’ road map and both political parties and also the main civil society organisations reacted on Wednesday morning. There were no big surprises and the most left-wing parties have put some distance between their stance and that of the Liberal Catalan President, who has been chairing a centre-right coalition with the Christian-Democrats. Furthermore, the Christian-Democrat leader, who launched his own platform to work for a Catalan state within a federal or confederated Spain, was also reluctant to join. However, the main interest was in the ERC’s reaction, since they have been the second largest party at the Catalan Parliament in the last two years, they have shared a stability agreement with the governing CiU and most of the opinion polls are putting them ahead, although very far from an absolute majority.
The ERC’s leader will talk on December 2
The President of the ERC, Oriol Junqueras, who attended Mas’ conference, refused to make any public statement on Tuesday evening. However on Wednesday he “welcomed” Mas’ proposal and also said he is willing “to talk” with Mas in order “to maximise” the pro-independence support, he said in a session at the Catalan Parliament. Junqueras stated to be “sure” they will be able to find the most convenient formula. However, at the same time, it was announced that the ERC’s leader will be proposing his own road map in a week’s time, on December 2. Therefore, it seems that we will have to wait at least one more week to confirm whether the ERC and CDC will be running together or not in a single electoral list, laced with many independents and prestigious professionals. The Catalan President answered Junqueras and announced he will attend his conference if the presidential schedule allows him to do so.
The ICV-EUiA criticises Mas for not dealing with the “social and democratic emergency”
The leader of the ICV-EUiA, Joan Herrera, objected against Mas’ single list that will only focus on independence. Herrera, who announced weeks ago he would vote for a Catalan State within a federal or confederated Spain (and therefore he would vote against full independence) criticised Mas for making a proposal that does not take into account the “social and democratic emergency” existing right now, with budget cuts in basic public services and the necessity for regeneration of the democratic institutions after so many corruption scandals. Herrera proposed to build an alternative list to Mas’, focused on “fighting inequalities and corruption” as well as “on winning the right to decide” on Catalonia’s collective future. Therefore, Herrera would not transform the early elections into a plebiscite on independence but into regular elections putting upfront social issues and the reconstruction of the democratic system, including the recognition of Catalonia’s right to self-determination.
The CUP will run with its own pro-independence list
The CUP MP, David Fernández, stated that Mas is trying to force the ERC to run in a single list. However, the CUP is rejecting to reduce the ideological diversity of pro-independence forces. In fact, Fernández objected Mas’ idea that a single list obtaining an absolute majority is “the only way to decode how many people want independence” from Spain. If Mas’ list and other lists that clearly support independence obtain, altogether, an absolute majority, it would be also clear that Catalans have voted for independence. In this vein, Fernández announced he will meet with the ERC’s leader, Oriol Junqueras, in the days to come in order to study “a common framework for reflection”. Therefore, it cannot be ruled out that the CUP would try to reach an electoral agreement with the ERC, which then would not be running with Mas.
The Christian-Democrat leader insists on rejecting early elections
The governing CiU is divided about the offer made by its leader. Mas’ party, the Liberal CDC, is willing to follow the President’s plan and adopt a secondary position in the coming early elections by supporting the shared list with many independents. However the other party within the CiU, the Christian-Democrat UDC, is more reluctant. In fact, the UDC is particularly divided on this issue, although its leader, Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, is clearly objecting to Mas’ proposal. Duran does not want early elections, as he has been repeating over the last few months. And on Wednesday morning he said the same thing. In fact, Duran did not attend Mas’ speech on Tuesday evening, despite his having been been CiU’s ‘number 2’ for decades. Duran rejects independence and has been working over the last few months to build his own political platform to defend a Catalan State within a confederated Spain, which he presented on Sunday. On Wednesday, Duran ruled out splitting from Mas and the CDC, although they have different views on the main issue of the Catalan politics for the last 2 years and the next few months: independence. The UDC leader said that there is no need for early elections since it is “exaggerated” to have so many electoral calls in such a short period of time. Furthermore, the CiU should not split up before the next municipal elections, scheduled in May 2015.
Main civil society organisations welcome Mas’ proposal
The grass-roots organisations that have been organising the main citizen mobilisations for independence during the last 2 years, the ANC and Òmnium, welcome the Catalan President’s proposal. The ANC’s President, Carme Forcadell, stated that it “is very difficult to reject” Mas’ offer, which is “very brave”. Furthermore, she added that the calendar proposed (independence negotiations during 18 months and constituent elections afterwards) is “quite in line” with that of the ANC’s. Òmnium Cultural’s President, Muriel Casals, stated that it would be “unthinkable” that pro-independence forces were not able to reach an agreement to run in a wide shared list. The President of the association grouping all the town halls supporting independence (AMI), Josep Maria Vila d’Abadal, proposed that if parties cannot reach an agreement, Forcadell and Casals should top the shared electoral list.
Rajoy: Mas “is walking towards nothing”
The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has continued to downplay the steps taken by the Catalan President and the evolution of Catalonia’s self-determination process. On Wednesday, at the Spanish Parliament, Rajoy stated that Mas “is walking towards nothing” and accused him of having “abandoned the majority of Catalans” since he is only “the President of a minority”. Furthermore, he affirmed that “since 2010” Mas has not been governing Catalonia, despite Rajoy’s PP having approved the Catalan Government’s budget for 2011 as well as several bills, and the PP was also essential in approving the figures for 2012. However, according to Rajoy, in Catalonia “there is a governmental deficit”. Once again, he promised that he will defend Spain’s “national sovereignty”. Besides, the leader of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), Pedro Sánchez, considered that Mas’ proposal is “terrible news” because “it fractures” Catalan society. Once again, Sánchez praised the PSOE’s Constitutional Reform “to share a common project for Spain”, although once again he did not disclose the details of such a reform, which is totally rejected by the PP. However, on previous occasions, several PSOE members confirmed that their proposed Constitutional Reform will not recognise Catalonia’s nationhood status, nor its right to self-determination.