Referendum 'not the solution': Catalan Socialist leader backtracks on contentious comments
Miquel Iceta rectifies remarks to newspaper suggesting self-determination vote justified "if 65% of Catalans wanted independence"
The leader of the Catalan Socialists has been forced to backtrack on comments he made on Wednesday, which appeared to suggest that a referendum on self-determination should be allowed if a majority of people in Catalonia wanted independence.
Miquel Iceta told the 'Berria' newspaper that "if 65% of Catalans wanted independence, democracy must find a means to enable it," but later rectified, saying a self-determination referendum "is not the solution" and added that independence "is not good for Catalonia."
Catalan president Quim Torra responded angrily to the remarks. "I have the same rights as a Scot. Why do they tell us there has to be a majority of 65, 68, or 92%? Where's the limit? Whoever has the majority wins," he said.
Senior members of the ruling Socialist party also weighed in, with Spanish vice president Carmen Calvo insisting Iceta "is an anti-independence Socialist."
"Our country has no legal structure for any territory to use a referendum to break the unity of Spain," she added.
Territorial policy minister Meritxell Batet also addressed Iceta's comments, pointing out that "Mr Iceta corrected his words in the interview," and insisting that the Socialist project is "forcefully against secessionism and defends the constitutional and statutory system."
Yet, the head of the PP conservative party Pablo Casado said that Iceta had revealed "the truth" about the Socialist's intentions, referring to "the roadmap that [Spanish president Pedro] Sánchez agreed in Madrid with [Catalan president Quim] Torra before the summer."
After Sánchez took office as Spanish president in June 2018, he met his Catalan counterpart in two head-to-head meetings, in which both presidents made a commitment to engage in dialogue to find a solution to the political impasse in Catalonia.
Meanwhile, the leader of the Cs opposition party in Catalonia, Inés Arrimadas, accused Iceta of "talking too much" and said his words showed the true intentions of the Socialist party to absolve the leaders of the 2017 independence bid, who are currently on trial for rebellion.