Spanish Parliament “strongly rejects” Catalonia’s “secessionist plan” with the PP, PSOE and UPyD votes
The Spanish nationalist party UPyD (Unión, Progreso y Democracia) has managed its motion against Catalonia’s self-determination to get the support of the governing People’s Party (PP) and the main opposition group, the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE). The rest of the parties in the Spanish Parliament have opposed the initiative presented by the group led by Rosa Díez, who asked a few months ago to cancel Catalonia’s autonomy and self-government institutions. UPyD’s motion has been approved with 272 ‘yes’ votes, 43 ‘no’ ballots and 1 abstention. The text states that the Spanish Parliament “explicitly and strongly rejects the secessionist plan of the Catalan Government”, mentioning two resolutions approved in 2013 by the Catalan Parliament. In addition, it asks the Spanish Government to “continue using all the tools foreseen in the Constitution and in the whole of the legal framework to guarantee the rule of law”.
Madrid (ACN).- It is the first time that the Spanish Parliament has “rejected” Catalonia’s self-determination. The Spanish nationalist party UPyD (Unión, Progreso y Democracia) has managed its motion against Catalonia’s self-determination to get the support of the governing People’s Party (PP) and the main opposition group, the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE). The rest of other parties in the Spanish Parliament have opposed the initiative presented by the party led by Rosa Díez, who asked a few months ago to cancel Catalonia’s autonomy and self-government institutions. After days of negotiations to get the PP and the PSOE on board, the small party UPyD – which does not have any institutional presence in Catalonia – has accepted lowering the motion’s tone in exchange of their votes. The PP holds an absolute majority in the 350-seat Chamber and therefore nothing can be approved without their support. The PSOE is the second largest group and both combined hold 85% of the Spanish Parliament’s seats. UPyD’s motion was approved on Thursday gathering 272 ‘yes’ votes, 43 ‘no’ ballots and 1 abstention. The text states that the Spanish Parliament “explicitly and strongly rejects the secessionist plan of the Catalan Government”, mentioning two motions approved in 2013 by the Catalan Parliament. The first statement declared the Catalan people as “sovereign” to decide on its own future and the second one formally requested the Spanish Parliament to authorise a self-determination vote in Catalonia. By approving UPyD’s motion, the Spanish Parliament slams the door in the face of the Catalan Parliament and its formal petition. UPyD’s text asks “the Government of Spain to continue using all the tools foreseen in the Constitution and in the whole of the legal framework to guarantee the rule of law”. Rosa Díez stated that the motion’s support was “crushing”. She underlined that the Spanish Parliament “will use its autonomy and will decide on a matter that concerns all the Spaniards”. “They wanted to deny us, this Chamber, where the national sovereignty sits, [the right] to give its say”, stated Díez on Wednesday.
This motion is another obstacle against Catalan citizens being allowed to freely and democratically vote on their collective future. The text approved this morning by 86% of the MPs who cast their vote digs in the Spanish authorities’ heels in the attitude of frontally opposing any move that would allow Catalan citizens to decide whether they want to be independent from Spain or not. In addition, it rejects the Catalan Parliament’ Declaration of Sovereignty, which stated that the Catalan people is “sovereign” and has the right to self-determination. On top of this, it also blocks the formal request to authorise a self-determination vote in Catalonia. Finally, it also paves the road for the Spanish Parliament to reject the formal request issued by the Catalan Parliament to transfer the powers to organise referendums to the Catalan Government, using Article 150.2 of the Constitution. Therefore, the motion blocks many possible legal and democratic ways out of the current situation. Finally, it also means that a marginal and nationalistic force such as UPyD – with no institutional presence in Catalonia – sets the agenda for Spain’s two largest parties, the PP and PSOE regarding a essential issue affecting the future of the Catalan people and the whole of Spain, with crucial implications for the European Union, and particularly for the project’s democratic foundations and the EU citizenship.
In fact, UPyD, the PP and the PSOE are stating that the Catalan people are not sovereign, since the only sovereignty belongs to all the Spaniards as a whole. They quote certain articles of the Constitution, particularly a part of Article 2, which talks about the “indissoluble unity” of Spain. However, they tend to forget about other article that might question their stance, such as those referring to Catalonia as a “nationality” and obliging to approve through “a binding referendum” voted “by the Catalan people” the relation with Spain. They also tend to forget how the Constitution was approved, being presented as the only way towards democracy and being negotiated with the actors from Franco’s Fascist Military Dictatorship. The Constitution was approved in 1978 in a context with many pressures and threats from the old regime, as it was proved by the military coup d’état of 1981. In addition the PP, PSOE and UPyD say that Catalonia is a founding part of Spain, an intrinsic part that cannot be separated. However, they do not say how this union was forged by the use of military force and political and cultural repression. They also ignore that Catalonia had its own self-government institutions and laws, which were abolished in 1714 to put in place a Unitarian state framed around Castilian’s rules, institutions and language.
The PP and PSOE supported the first point of the motion from the first moment
From the first moment, the motions’ first point had the support of the PP and PSOE – including the MPs from the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), which is part of the PSOE. The PSOE and the PSC have been arguing over the last few months whether Catalans should be allowed to hold a referendum, since the PSC ran in the last Catalan Elections explicitly supporting the right to self-determination. However, the PSOE was utterly opposed to such a right and managed to convince the PSC leadership to withdraw from its support to the self-determination cause and side next to Madrid’s stances. This decision provoked great tensions within the PSC which risks splitting up.
The first point of the motion reads as follows: “The Spanish Parliament “explicitly and strongly rejects the secessionist plan of the Catalan Government approved by the Catalan Parliament’s Motion 323/IX from 27th of September 2013, which develops the same Parliament’s Motion 5/X from the 23rd of January 2013, which approved the so-called ‘Declaration of sovereignty and the right to self-determination of Catalonia’s people’”.
Negotiations to lower the tone of the second point
The second point was widely debated among UPyD, the PP and the PSOE and has finally been modified in order to obtain the support of the two largest parties. Rosa Díez accepted to lower the tone of the text in exchange for a much wider support. The original text was asking the Spanish Government “to adopt the necessary measures to solve the open disobedience regarding the current legality and the judicial decisions that the Catalan Government systematically makes”. However, the PP and PSOE considered that courts where the only ones that had to guarantee that judicial decisions are respected.
The PP presented the following amendment, which was initially accepted by UPyD but refused by the PSOE. The text was asking the Spanish Government “to continue using all the tools foreseen in the Constitution and the entire legal framework […] to guarantee” that legality will be respected. It was also “reminding all the institutions” that they are obliged “to honour the sentences and decisions of the judges and courts”. The PSOE rejected the last part, which clearly refers to the series of judicial decision against the Catalan school model based on the linguistic immersion.
Finally, the second point was approved in the form of the amendment presented by the Socialists. It asks “the Government of Spain to continue using all the tools foreseen in the Constitution and in the whole of the legal framework to guarantee the rule of law”.
Political statements from the parties
The motion was approved on Thursday but the debate at the Spanish Parliament took place on Wednesday. Rosa Díez said that the right to self-determination “belongs to all the Spaniards and not to some of them that want to decide for all of us”. “They wanted to deny us, this Chamber, where the national sovereignty sits, the right to give its say”, stated the UPyD leader.
The Socialist MP Fernando López Amor criticised the Spanish Government’s “laziness” when it comes to give an answer to the “secessionist challenge”. He asked to deal with the issue in “political terms”, and in a “smart” way, he added.
The PP MP Antonio Gallego, who is from Catalonia, expressed the support of his party to the entire motion’s text. “The Government of Spain will continue to act in a firm way, in line with the Law, against any illegal agreement reached in Catalonia”, he said. He added that the PP “will defend the Constitutional framework and the democratic rules”.
The Catalan parties which have their own groups in the Spanish Parliament strongly criticised the motion. The Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), which runs the Catalan Government, stated they “do not share at all the motion and Díez’ intervention” because “no legal framework has been broken in Catalonia”. The CiU MP Montserrat Surroca stated that “it’s enough”, “enough with manipulating in order to win a bunch of votes”. She deeply regretted that the PP and the PSOE, and particularly the PSC MPs, are “travelling side” to UPyD.
The Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) pointed out that Catalonia’s sovereignty “is not given nor taken away”. The ERC Spokesperson, Alfred Bosch, asked UPyD that if they believe that all Spaniards have to decide on the issue, they should present a motion in such sense in order to “exercise the right to decide” on Catalonia’s future. “You say that the [Catalan] plan is illegal, but how come can voting be illegal!”, Bosch wondered. He added that if there is a contradiction between the law and what people vote, it is the law that has to be changed in a democratic regime.
Finally, the Catalan Green Socialist Party (ICV), which runs together with the Post-Communist Izquierda Unida (IU), accused UPyD of “building” its entire speech “on a big lie”, which is “only seeking to win a bunch of votes at the expense of the citizen conviviality”. The ICV Spokesperson, Joan Coscubiela, pointed out that the Catalan Parliament’s motion was asking the Spanish and Catalan Government “to negotiate to allow the organisation of a consultation vote”, which “does not substitute the will of the Spanish nation”.