Spanish Parliament rejects motions urging Rajoy to stop his no-to-everything stance on Catalan claims
Catalan parties have filed several motions requesting the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to make a move regarding Catalonia’s self-determination and abandon his frontal opposition attitude. “React now before it’s too late”, the Spokesperson of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), which runs the Catalan Government told Rajoy. The Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) was asking the Spanish Government to negotiate the terms for holding a self-determination referendum in Catalonia. The Catalan Green Socialist and Post-Communist Coalition (ICV-EUiA) was asking Rajoy to transfer the powers to organise referendums to the Catalan Government, using Article 150.2 of the Constitution. Meanwhile, the Spanish and Catalan Socialists are proposing a revision of Spain’s territorial model. Rajoy rejected all the motions.
Barcelona (ACN).- Catalan parties filed several motions requesting the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to make a move regarding Catalonia’s self-determination and abandon his frontal opposition attitude. “React now before it’s too late”, the Spokesperson of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), which runs the Catalan Government told Rajoy. The CiU was urging the Spanish Executive “to initiate a dialogue with the Catalan Government in order to allow the organisation of a consultation vote for the citizens of Catalonia to be able to decide on their future”. The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), which is member of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), voted last year for a motion with the exact same wording. However, this time, the PSC abstained and the Spanish and Catalan Socialists are proposing a revision of Spain’s territorial model, as a first step towards reforming the Constitution. The Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) was asking the Spanish Government to negotiate the terms for holding a self-determination referendum in Catalonia “with the parliamentary groups and the Generalitat [Catalan Executive]”. The Catalan Green Socialist and Post-Communist Coalition (ICV-EUiA) was asking Rajoy to transfer the powers to organise referendums to the Catalan Government, using Article 150.2 of the Constitution. The ICV-EUiA also accused the Spanish PM of “denying democracy” and urged him “to negotiate”. As expected, the People’s Party, which runs the Spanish Government and holds an absolute majority in the Spanish Parliament, rejected all the motions on Thursday morning. The problem for Rajoy is that his no-to-everything attitude feeds pro-independence claims, since Catalans feel Spain does not want to find a better accommodation for them. And Catalans are running out of patience, after decades of attempts to reach such accommodation.
On the third day of the State of the Nation debate in the Spanish Parliament, MPs voted on the several motions presented by the groups after having discussed Spain’s main issues and the Spanish Government’s actions to deal with them for two days. On the first day, Rajoy repeated once again that he would not allow any self-determination vote in Catalonia, since the “national sovereignty belongs to all Spaniards” and “one part cannot decide for all”, he said.
Rajoy shields behind his interpretation of the Constitution
The Spanish PM also insisted that the Spanish Constitution – which he refuses to modify – does not allow for holding a self-determination vote in Catalonia, although several Constitutional experts think the contrary. Rajoy stuck to his interpretation of the Constitution and repeated that Catalonia’s self-determination was “impossible”. Furthermore, he said he is willing to talk but always about issues “within the Constitution”. Catalan parties stated that following this logic, Constitutions and laws could never be changed if people cannot discuss aspects that might not be included or foreseen in the legislation. “Unity is a greater value” than “dialogue”, even said Rajoy.
“React now before it’s too late”
On Tuesday, the CiU’s Spokesperson, Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, was very clear when he urged Rajoy to make a move towards Catalonia “before it’s too late”. Duran i Lleida, who is personally against independence but supports Catalonia’s right to self-determination, asked the Spanish PM “to talk” in order to allow Catalan citizens to vote. Otherwise, Rajoy risks having “an amputated Spain”.
The ERC’s Spokesperson, Alfred Bosch, urged Rajoy “to wake up” and face the problems of Spain, instead of acting as if nothing was going on and the economic recovery was a strong reality. Bosch asked Rajoy to deal with the citizens’ demands and concerns, including those from Catalan citizens. The ERC MP insisted that “not being allowed to vote is not normal” in a democracy and warned Rajoy that Catalans will vote, one way or another.
The ICV-EUiA Spokesperson, Joan Coscubiela, criticised Rajoy’s economic policies, which go “against the weakest”. He hugely criticised austerity measures and budget cuts, which are “dismantling public services”. Regarding Catalonia, Coscubiela asked Rajoy to negotiate and allow Catalans to vote.
All the motions asking the Spanish Government to negotiate are rejected
On Wednesday, during the second day of the debate, the CiU, ERC and ICV-EUiA filed several motions supporting Catalonia’s right to self-determination. The motions were discussed on Thursday morning. The votes of the People’s Party rejected all of them
The CiU stated that “the Constitution cannot be a wall against dialogue”. They urged the Spanish Government to negotiate in order “to avoid”, “in the coming months”, “consequences that will be impossible to solve in an immediate future”. The CiU was indirectly referring to a unilateral declaration of independence. The CiU said that Rajoy’s “reiterated negatives” can easily be interpreted as “an imposition” in Catalonia, since “the current Constitution does not ban a consultation vote” on self-determination.
The ERC criticised the attitude of the Catalan Socialists, who last year voted for a motion asking the Spanish Government to negotiate but now are abstaining. “It is like Ricky Martin’s song: a step forward Maria, a step backwards”, said the ERC Spokesperson ironically. The ICV-EUiA stated that “Catalonia is a nation and has the right to decide on its own future”. The Green Socialist Spokesperson accused Rajoy of “denying democracy with each of his actions”. The ICV-EUiA demanded the use of Article 150.2 of the Spanish Constitution to transfer the powers to organise a referendum to the Catalan Government.
Rajoy attitude feeds pro-independence claims, since patience has a limit
Rajoy and the PP confirmed once again that they do not have any will to negotiate any aspect linked to Catalonia’s self-determination process. At the same time, they are also rejecting making any move to find a better accommodation of Catalan citizens within Spain, since they do not support the revision of the territorial model and the Constitution proposed by the Socialists. The PP’s only answer since September 2012, when there was the first massive pro-independence demonstration in Catalonia, has been “no”, “no” to everything. Meanwhile, Rajoy has been cynically repeating that he is “open to talk” but at the same time he totally refuses to talk about the demands shared by a majority of Catalan citizens, which currently are Spain’s main problem.
The Spanish Prime Minister believes that by not making any move and using his interpretation of the Constitution as a shield, the Spanish establishment will resist change and keep Spain’s unity, hoping that the Catalan demands will weaken as time goes by and the economic recovery is stronger. The problem for Rajoy is that this attitude feeds the alienation felt by a majority of Catalans from the Spanish Establishment, which ignores their demands. And patience has a limit.
Catalan parties have spent decades proposing changes to find a better accommodation for Catalonia within Spain. In fact, since the second half of the 19th century, the majority of Catalan parties have been trying to decentralise Spain and modernise its economy and establishment. However, Spanish nationalism and centralist trends have been recurrent, combined with severe episodes of cultural and political repression. Furthermore, these Spanish nationalist and centralist trend – which Catalan fear - have grown again since 2000. Catalan parties tried once again to counteract this with the Statute of Autonomy in 2006, approved by the Spanish Parliament and the Catalan people through a binding referendum. However, the Spanish establishment used the Constitutional Court to rule against Catalonia’s main law and trimmed it in 2010, reinterpreting essential aspects.
This episode totally destroyed the Constitutional agreement of 1978 and was the trigger behind the rise of current pro-independence demands. A majority of Catalans have lost faith that Spain will ever fully accept Catalonia’s nationhood, its self-government institutions and the Catalan language. In addition, they seriously doubt it will ever work for the interests of the Catalan economy. A majority of Catalans have lost their patience. And Rajoy’s attitude only confirms this.