Rajoy: early elections in Catalonia show the Catalan President’s “failure”
The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, who is also leader of the conservative and Spanish nationalist People’s Party (PP), strongly criticised the announcement of early elections made by the Catalan President, Artur Mas, the evening before. Mas announced elections in Catalonia for 27 September this year, transformed into a ‘de facto’ referendum on independence. These elections are the only way Catalans can vote on this issue, taking into account the Spanish Government’s total opposition to even talking about self-determination demands, which were backed by an absolute majority of citizens in the last Catalan elections (held in November 2012) which themselves were already a plebiscite on having a legal vote on independence. However, as opposed to the British Government, Rajoy refused to even discuss these demands, has not made any concessions, and has showed total opposition, which has even involved the criminal prosecution of the Catalan President.
Barcelona (ACN).- The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, who is also leader of the conservative and Spanish nationalist People’s Party (PP), strongly criticised the announcement of early elections in Catalonia made by the Catalan President, Artur Mas, the evening before. Mas announced elections for 27 September this year, which will be transformed into a ‘de facto’ referendum on independence from Spain. These elections are the only way Catalans can vote on this issue, taking into account the Spanish Government’s total opposition to even talking about self-determination demands, which were backed by an absolute majority of the Catalan Parliament resulting from the last elections that themselves were already a plebiscite on having a legal vote on independence this term (held in November 2012). However, as opposed to the British Government’s attitude regarding the democratic mandate resulting from Scotland’s elections in 2011, Rajoy refused to even discuss these demands.
In addition, Rajoy has not made any concessions, has carried on with his recentralisation and cultural homogenisation agenda, and has showed a total opposition to Catalonia’s self-determination process, which has even involved the criminal prosecution of the Catalan President. Despite his no-to-everything attitude and the Spanish Government’s open threats, Rajoy was not able to stop the symbolic vote on independence held in Catalonia on 9 November, in which 2.35 million citizens participated. After this vote, as he previously did on other occasions during the last two and a half years, Rajoy stated that Catalonia’s self-determination process was “a failure” and would soon fade away. Now, after the announcement of a ‘de facto’ referendum on independence for 27 September, Rajoy is repeating that this shows “the failure” of the Catalan President.
On Thursday, a few hours after Artur Mas set early elections in Catalonia for late September, Rajoy reacted to the announcement in an interview with Agencia EFE. The Spanish PM said that Mas’ announcement is “acknowledgement and evidence of the failure of a determined way of doing politics, which has only generated instability and uncertainty” in Catalonia during these last few years. Rajoy highlighted that with Mas’ announcement of elections in September, the Catalan President is “putting Catalans through an 8-month-long electoral campaign”. This means that “in less than 5 years, there have been 3 regional elections in Catalonia”, stated Rajoy, referring to the regular elections held in November 2010, the early call of November 2012 and now the elections of September 2015.
Mas called early elections in November 2012 as well
Two years ago, Mas called early elections after 1.5 million people demonstrated in Barcelona demanding independence from Spain and after the Spanish Government rejected even discussing the Catalan Executive’s proposal to start negotiating a better fiscal scheme for Catalonia, which was Mas’ main electoral promise back in 2010. After Rajoy’s refusal to negotiate a specific Economic Agreement for Catalonia and the unprecedented massive pro-independence rally (which was the largest demonstration ever in Catalonia), Mas called early elections to officially give citizens the opportunity to have their say on whether to have a self-determination vote.
Now, he is repeating the operation, after Rajoy refused to negotiate any mutually-agreed vote on this issue and when civil society organisations are totally mobilised behind demanding an independence vote and continuing to organise massive demonstrations that have few equivalents across Europe.
Rajoy accuses Mas of acting only in “partisan interest”
However, Rajoy insisted that elections in September in Catalonia will mean that Catalans will go to the polling stations 3 times in 2015: for the municipal elections scheduled in May in the whole of Spain, for the Spanish general elections that are supposed to take place in November or December, and for the Catalan Parliament elections, which should have taken place in November 2016. The Spanish PM highlighted that Mas has never completed a full term in office.
In addition, according to Rajoy, Catalonia’s early elections are only happening because of the “mere partisan interest” of the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU (led by Mas) and the left-wing Catalan independence party ERC (led by Oriol Junqueras). According to Rajoy, early elections only obey the CiU’s and ERC’s will to solve “the mess and the problem” they have on their hands.
According to Rajoy, with their involvement in the self-determination debate and the calling of early elections, the CiU and the ERC “have forgotten about the general interest” and about taking care of “unemployment, and real, economic problems”.
“It is not normal to have three regional elections in less than 5 years and it is not normal because it does not happen anywhere else in the world that somebody announces early elections 9 months before the elections actually take place”, emphasised Rajoy. This early elections call “has no sense at all” and Catalan citizens will now have to give their opinion about “this extraordinarily serious question”, he concluded.