Podem backs voting in independence referendum
Catalan wing of Podemos calls for big turnout on October 1 to protest Spanish government’s ‘obstinacy’ but insists vote is non-binding
Podem, the Catalan branch of the Spanish left-wing party Podemos (We Can), backs the independence referendum to be held on October 1 and is calling on people to vote as an act of protest against the “obstinacy and authoritarianism” of the Spanish government. Unlike the pro-independence parties, which want an immediate declaration of independence should the ‘yes’ vote win, Podem does not consider the vote to be binding.
“Regrettably, the [Catalan] government’s proposal can hardly be seen as an effective referendum that could be applied,” said Podem spokesperson, Albano Dante Fachín, after the party’s Citizen’s Council adopted an official position on the vote on Thursday. Although Podem is not in favour of Catalonia’s independence, it does supports its right of self-determination. A “huge” turnout would show that the Spanish president, Mariano Rajoy, cannot continue to turn his back on Catalonia’s pro-independence movement, Fachín said.
However, the Spanish Podemos leadership does not agree with its Catalan counterpart. “If I were a Catalan citizen --which I am not-- I probably would not participate in the October 1 referendum, and I would not vote for one option or the other,” said the Podemos Organization Secretary Pablo Echenique. He said the vote has “no guarantees” and therefore cannot be seen as an exercise of the “right to decide”.
"If I were a Catalan citizen —which I am not— I probably would not participate in the October 1 referendum."
Pablo Echenique · Podemos Organization Secretary
The position of Podemos is that In order for it to be seen as legal and binding, the referendum should be agreed with the Spanish government. Only this way, they argue, can ‘no’ supporters also vote. “If not, the same thing will happen as with 9-N [the non-binding vote on independence called by the Catalan government in 2014] when only independence supporters voted, which does not make the result very representative,” Echenique said.
The newly created left-wing Catalunya En Comú (Catalonia in Common), which is backed by Barcelona mayor Ada Colau and is competing with Podem for the left-wing voters who support Catalonia’s self-determination, also says vote is non-binding.
“[The October 1 referendum] is an affirmation of Catalonia’s sovereignty and its right to decide in front of PP [Spain’s ruling People’s Party],” said Xavier Domènech, Catalunya En Comú General Coordinator, after the party discussed and approved its official stance on the issue on Saturday 8. However, Domènech says the October referendum is not a proposal for solving the conflict.
As of now, Catalunya En Comú backs a “mobilization” for October 1. The party has yet to decide whether it will call people to vote or not.