Rajoy rejects defining Spain as ‘plurinational’
Spanish president dismisses opposition proposal arguing the Constitution only includes "nationalities and regions"
Spanish president Mariano Rajoy is deaf to all talk of Spain as a plurinational state. Rejecting the socialist opposition’s acceptance of the term “plurinational” to describe Spain, on Friday Rajoy went only as far as admitting that the State includes "nationalities and regions" and suggested that "it makes no sense to dwell on it." "I am not in favour of the term plurinational; it calls for an explanation of what it means. I favour something encapsulated in the Constitution that is well-understood, in Spain there are nationalities and regions, it is what was agreed at the time," he said.
“What we need is to be clear and for things to be understandable," added the People’s Party (PP) leader, who went on to say that "the Spanish Constitution and all the constitutions in the world" do not recognise "the right to self-determination."
The president’s remarks come in the wake of the PSOE socialist party approving the idea of Spain as a plurinational state in its conference on June 17. "No one has told us what it means, which laws will need to be changed, what the legal consequences will be," Rajoy said of the PSOE proposal. Yet, Rajoy encouraged PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez to meet with him, saying he had "no doubt" that he "will support the defence of Spain’s unity and national sovereignty."
The issue surrounding the nature of Spain as a plurinational state is in response to Catalonia’s intention to hold a referendum on independence on October 1. While the governing PP party has adamantly refused to even discuss the issue of self-determination, the PSOE socialist party, with the reinstated Sánchez at its head, paid lip-service to Catalan demands for the right to decide by defining Spain as plurinational, but insisting on the party line of a federal solution to the Catalan conflict.
Continuing his strategy of appealing for Spanish unity, the Spanish president said that his government and PSOE had to “make an effort” to find common ground where issues of state were concerned, such as Catalonia’s bid for sovereignty. Saying he was “prepared” to meet the PSOE leader, Rajoy said: “I will have the meeting whenever Mr Sánchez wants it, and it will be good for us to meet.”
"I favour something encapsulated in the Constitution that is well-understood, in Spain there are nationalities and regions, it is what was agreed at the time"
Mariano Rajoy · Spanish president
Yet, Rajoy’s distress over the plurinational issue did not end there. Despite the president addressing it, the spokesman for the executive had appeared earlier to reiterate the “concern” the government felt about PSOE approving the plurinational term in its party conference: “We do not know what it is, what the nations are, nor the powers they have, and clearly it is not in the Constitution,” Íñigo Méndez de Vigo told the press.
The spokesman went on to say that his government is “concerned about there being no clear vision of what Spain is supposed to be, about the territorial unity of Spain and about the concept of sovereignty.” “The idea that there are many nations but only one sovereignty seems to dodge an issue we would like [PSOE] to clarify,” he said.
As the president went on to do after him, Méndez de Vigo referred to the Constitution, calling it an “example of coexistence” based on “respect for the rules of the game and the political adversary.”
“Our Constitution, which is the main organiser of coexistence, is the route for citizen participation and the guarantee of individual rights,” he said, stressing that it also “allows the integration of political projects as long as they respect its fundamental values.”