Puigdemont to call a referendum next September if Spain doesn’t allow Catalans to vote
Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, insisted on the Government’s will “to collaborate with a Spanish State which would allow Catalans to vote”, but warned that the offer to hold a binding referendum on Catalonia’s independence “doesn’t expire, but [it] won’t paralyse us either”.“It’s either a referendum or a referendum”, he stated before the Parliament during the first phase of the vote of confidence and forecast that the vote will take place “in the second half of September”. The Catalan President called on MPs to start “a chain of confidence which will not end tomorrow [when the vote of confidence will take place] but continue until Catalonia becomes an independent country”. In this sense, he warned those who won’t support the budget for 2017 not to support him on Thursday and “avoid further wasting of time”. Although Puigdemont assured that he was “not afraid” of the vote of confidence result, he also insisted that he will call new elections if he doesn’t obtain enough votes.
Barcelona (CNA).- Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, emphasised the Government’s will to culminate Catalonia’s pro-independence movement by holding a binding referendum. “It’s either a referendum or a referendum”, he stated before the Parliament during the first phase of the vote of confidence and forecast that the vote will take place “in the second half of September”. According to Puigdemont, the offer to hold an agreed referendum with Spain on Catalonia’s independence “doesn’t expire, but [it] won’t paralyse us either”. The Catalan President called on MPs to start “a chain of confidence which will not end tomorrow [when the vote of confidence will take place] but continue until Catalonia becomes an independent country”. “I hope that during the moments of maximum disagreement we will be loyal to the Catalans’ mandate”, he stated indirectly addressing radical left pro-independence CUP. In this vein, he warned those who won’t support the budget for 2017 not to support him and “avoid further wasting of time”.
Puigdemont assured that “there is a new opportunity for the Spanish State to recognise Catalonia and overcome this deadlock” and insisted on his willingness to “discuss the date, the question and the required results”. However, he also warned that if this option doesn’t get through, he will “entrust Catalan Vice President, Oriol Junqueras and Catalan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Transparency and Participation, Raül Romeva, to start designing the referendum”. Thus, Puigdemont made clear that the Government’s will to collaborate with the Spanish State continues but that “the commitment to the Catalans’ mandate that emerged from the 27-S elections and to the timeframe of this term of office continues”. “This is an offer which doesn’t expire, but [it] won’t paralyse us either”.
However, Puigdemont warned that before calling a referendum it is necessary “to overcome the hurdle of confidence”, otherwise he will “call new elections”.
Call for CUP to pass the bill
Puigdemont also admitted that CUP’s veto of the budget for 2016 is what led to him calling a vote of confidence. “One of the main instruments of the Government has been questioned, that’s why we are here – because we didn’t pass the bill”, he stated. In this sense, Puigdemont linked support for him to passing the budget for 2017. “I advise those who don’t intend to pass the bill to save us time and not support me” and added that “there is no confidence without a budget”. The Catalan President called on MPs to “start a chain of confidence which will not end tomorrow [when the vote of confidence will take place] but continue until Catalonia becomes an independent country”. This chain should “include everybody” and confidence “should be shared” in order to “make it credible to fellow citizens first and to the rest of the world later” that the Government is “determined and that no efforts will be saved to culminate this process”.
New elections to be called if Puigdemont doesn’t pass the vote
Although not passing the vote of confidence doesn’t necessarily mean calling new elections, Puigdemont made it clear that if he doesn’t get enough support in this Thursday’s vote, he will call new elections. “I’m not afraid of the vote’s result”, he stated and asked that “whatever the result might be, it be democratically respected”. While he called the MPs to renew their support for the current government, he also insisted on his disposition to “accept the consequences of the Parliament’s decision”. “The vote of confidence reminds us that positions are temporary and that parliaments have the authority”, he stated and insisted that he will use his “power to call new elections” if the budget for 2017, and therefore the confidence in this government, is not renewed.
Parliamentary parties react to Puigdemont’s speech
The first party to react to Puigdemont’s speech was the pro-independence radical left-wing CUP. Their spokeswoman, Ana Gabriel, stated that Puigdemont’s will is “in harmony with what the party has always defended”. Besides this, Gabriel avoided relating the support of CUP to the budget: “The priority is to govern well”.
The spokeswoman of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), Eva Granados, said that her party “has seen a weak president begging for confidence”. “A referendum or a referendum means failure or failure”, she added. For his part, the spokesman of alternative left alliance ‘Catalunya Sí que es Pot’ (CSQP), Joan Coscubiela, applauded the Catalan President for putting the referendum at the centre of his strategy. However, the politician criticised Puigdemont’s demand for a ‘blank cheque’ regarding the budget.
In relation to CSQP’s statement, the spokeswoman of ‘Junts pel Sí’ (JxSí), Marta Rovira, asked the party to accompany the Government on its way to the referendum. “They have always defended holding a referendum. We should hold our hand and go to the end”, the politician stated.
On the contrary, the spokesman of Spanish Unionist ‘Ciutadans’ (C’s), Fernando de Páramo, accused Puigdemont of wanting to hold referendums until he has the wished for result. In this vein, the politician recalled that independence didn’t obtain a majority in the past elections. The spokesman of the Catalan People’s Party (PP), Enric Millo, stated along the same lines that the Catalan President “has disconnected from reality, is not down to earth and has turned his back on the European, Spanish and Catalan societies”. According to the politician’s view, the calling of a referendum in September 2017 means “conflict” and Catalans “do not want to crash, nor have division”. Millo assured that the PP is going to vote ‘no’ on Thursday.