Pro-independence forces agree to hold a referendum by September 2017
Governing cross-party list ‘Junts Pel Sí’ and their main partner in the Parliament, radical left CUP are putting the final touches to a referendum proposal. Both pro-independence forces have agreed to hold a vote by September 2017 “at the latest” and base it on a “clear question” which could be answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ (to independence). Although earlier this week CUP suggested holding the referendum next July, the radical left party admitted that it is not “for them alone to decide”, CUP MP Anna Gabriel said this Wednesday in an interview with Catalan television TV3. Gabriel also insisted that the referendum will be held “regardless of the Spanish State’s refusal”. In this vein, Gabriel considered that calling a referendum agreed with the Spanish State has to be regarded as “a technique” for the international audience.
Barcelona (CNA).- The pro-independence forces in the Parliament, governing cross-party list ‘Junts Pel Sí’ and radical left CUP confirmed this Wednesday that they will hand in a joint proposal regarding a potential referendum on independence. Both parties agreed to hold the vote by September 2017 “at the latest” and “regardless of the Spanish State’s refusal”, stated CUP MP, Anna Gabriel. In this vein, Gabriel insisted on CUP’s reluctance to call a referendum agreed with the Spanish State and considered it to be an option only valid “from an international perspective”. Although CUP suggested holding the referendum next July, the radical left party admitted that it is not “for them alone to decide”. The draft also foresees, before the end of 2016, the creation of a committee to launch, control and execute the referendum.
Gabriel also explained that the referendum will have to be on a “clear question” about the creation of the Catalan republic which could be answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no’. CUP’s statements coincided with the general politics debate held this Wednesday in the Parliament.
Puigdemont calls for the parties to “overcome their differences”
During the session, Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, called for the different parties in the Parliament “to overcome their differences” and prioritise “reaching agreements”. Although he admitted that there are always “legitimate and necessary reasons for disagreement”, he urged the parties “not to be ashamed of the coincidences, even when these coincidences are between groups which have different ideologies”. “Let’s look for agreements rather than confrontation”, stated Puigdemont.
Besides carrying out an assessment in the economic field and analysing the Government’s agenda, Puigdemont also emphasised the executive’s will to hold a referendum on independence. “It is not the Government’s project but that of the whole country”, he said. “Catalonia is facing a historic moment and different to what happened in other periods, now decisions are made through voting”, he said and added that “Catalonia’s future has to be decided by Catalans for its own good”.
CUP calls on Puigdemont to raise taxes
During the debate, CUP MP Albert Botrán lamented Puigdemont’s “reproaches” regarding the budget draft for 2016 and stated that the responsibility for the bill to be passed “was shared between ‘Junts Pel Sí’ and CUP”. Botrán also urged the Government to “raise the taxes of the rich”. “76% of Catalans agree that those who earn more have to pay more”, he said. As a response, Puigdemont said that he considered Catalonia’s “biggest wealth to be Spanish” and called on CUP to help the Government fight against Spain’s “fiscal pillaging”.
‘Ciutadans’ accuse Puigdemont of living in a “happy Arcadia”
The main party in the opposition, Spanish Unionist ‘Ciutadans’ responded to Puigdemont’s speech and criticised its “triumphalist” tone. “Everything that goes well does so because you are really good and everything that goes wrong is because of Spain” said with irony ‘Ciutadans’ leader in the Parliament, Inés Arrimadas. “Could you do self-criticism?” she added rhetorically. Arrimadas also accused the Government of being “so focused on independence” that it is “taking the welfare state apart”. “Many people will die while waiting for your happy Arcadia promises” said Arrimadas, emphasising the “10-year waiting lists” in the public health services.
In a similar vein, the Conservative People’s Party (PP) accused Puigdemont of only worrying about “the pro-independence flag” and “leaving the Spanish Government alone in its commitment to help Catalans”. According to PP’s leader in the Parliament, Xavier García Albiol, Puigdemont is governing “against Catalans’ interests” and urged him to think about “a constitutional reform” rather than “feeding the pro-independence scheme”.
Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) leader in the Parliament, Miquel Iceta, called Puigdemont “to focus on social policies” since the executive’s priorities “are unbalanced”.