Spanish Parliament to answer Catalonia's petitions to transfer referendum powers on April 8th
On Wednesday, the parties supporting the petitions to transfer to the Catalan Government the powers to organise referendums, using Article 150.2 of the Constitution, welcomed the Spanish Parliament's decision to fix the debate as early as possible, particularly before the summer break. The Catalan Parliament had approved a motion urging the Spanish Government for such a transfer in order to organise a self-determination vote. However, the Spanish Parliament might have scheduled the corresponding parliamentary debate in September or October. For this reason, the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) and the Catalan Green Socialist Party (ICV) filed their own petitions using their MPs in Madrid in order to speed up the debate. Finally, the Spanish Parliament's Board, controlled by the People's Party (PP), decided to group all the petitions and to hold a single debate on the issue in April.
Barcelona (ACN).- On Wednesday, the parties supporting the petitions to transfer to the Catalan Government the powers to organise referendums, using Article 150.2 of the Constitution, welcomed on Wednesday the Spanish Parliament's decision to fix the debate as early as possible, particularly before the summer break. The Spanish Parliament decided to debate on such petitions together, on the 8th of April. The Catalan Parliament had approved on the 16th January a motion urging the Spanish Government for such a transfer, in order to organise a legal self-determination referendum in Catalonia. This is one of the 5 different legal ways identified by legal experts that would allow for the organisation of an independence vote in Catalonia and it is similar to the formula used for the Scottish case. The Catalan Parliament's formal petition was immediately sent to Madrid for consideration and was accepted for debate. However, the Spanish Parliament might have scheduled the required parliamentary debate in September or October, which was too late considering social pressure for Catalonia's independence from Spain. In addition, a majority of Catalan parties, almost holding a two-third majority, reached an agreement in December 2013 to hold a self-determination consultation vote on the 9th of November 2014, giving enough time to the Spanish Authorities to negotiate. Therefore, taking this into account, the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) – which runs the Catalan Government, the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) and the Catalan Green Socialist Party (ICV) filed their own petitions using their MPs in Madrid in order to speed up the parliamentary debate.
The Spanish Parliament's Board, controlled by the People's Party (PP) – which holds an absolute majority and runs the Spanish Government, decided to group all the petitions, including the Catalan Parliament’s one, to hold a single debate on the issue on the 8th of April, before the European Elections campaign. The agreement to speed up the parliamentary debate was reached between the PP and the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) on Tuesday evening. Both parties are totally against independence and the organisation of a self-determination vote in Catalonia. In addition, they reject negotiating the way to make such a vote possible.
Speeding up the debate is in the interest of all parties
By speeding up the debate, the PP and PSOE are aiming to give a strong and clear negative answer to the Catalan petition, also sending a powerful political message before the European Elections, particularly targeting the Spanish nationalist voters. Spanish nationalists are urging the PP and PSOE to adopt strong measures against Catalonia's self-determination claims in order to end a debate that outrages them and to guarantee Spain's unity.
However, the decision to speed up the debate is also in the interest of CiU, ERC and ICV, which support the organisation of a self-determination vote on the 9th of November. The soonest CiU, ERC and ICV obtain a definitive "no" from the Spanish authorities to the formula to transfer the referendum powers – similar to the procedure used in Scotland, the soonest they can launch a Plan B. This alternative would firstly consist in approving Catalonia's own Consultation Vote Law, which is not yet in place but was already foreseen in the Catalan Statute of Autonomy, approved in 2006 by the Spanish Parliament and the Catalan people through a binding referendum. If the Spanish Government stops this Plan B by taking the new Consultation Vote Law to the Constitutional Court, a second alternative would be launched, although parties do not want to speculate on it.
Rejecting the consultation vote is rejecting "the voice of a people"
The Vice President of the Catalan Government, Joana Ortega, was satisfied with the date of the 8th of April. She considered that it was not positive to keep delaying such a debate. In addition, she was also in favour of debating all the petitions at the same time. However, the CiU politician directly sent a message to the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (who is also the PP leader) and to the Secretary General of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba. Ortega stated that if the Spanish Parliament finally rejected the petitions, they are neither opposing "the plan of Artur Mas [the Catalan President] nor the Government's plan", but "they will be denying the voice of a people". Furthermore, the CiU Spokesperson at the Catalan Parliament, Jordi Turull, asked the PP and the PSOE "not to be afraid of democracy". He asked them "to dive within the Catalan reality" because they will discover that "Catalans want to vote". Turull will be representing CiU at the Spanish Parliament when the petitions will be debated.
The ERC has chosen its Secretary General and Spokesperson at the Catalan Parliament, Marta Rovira, as its representative to defend the petition in Madrid. Furthermore, the ERC's President, Oriol Junqueras, will be Rovira's substitute. The ERC Spokesperson in the Spanish Parliament, Alfred Bosch, asked Rajoy to "switch on the green light" for Catalonia's self-determination. Bosch also urged the Spanish PM to negotiate the terms to hold such a legal vote in Catalonia, instead of repeating that such a vote is illegal according to his interpretation of the Constitution. "We always cross with a green light and if you do not change the red light, we will find a pedestrian crossway", said the ERC MP. "On the 9th of November we will go to vote in a calm, serene and legal way, because voting is not illegal", Bosch concluded.
The ICV has not yet decided who will be representing the party in Madrid's debate. However, the ICV National Coordinator, Dolors Camats, stated they were "satisfied" with the date chosen (8th of April) because the debate will be held "as soon as possible". Camats insisted they wanted to hold this debate at the Spanish Parliament, because they were convinced there was enough time to do so before the 9th of November, considering that the petition was sent in mid-January. In addition, the ICV welcomed that all the petitions have been grouped and will be debated at the same time, since "it shows the political will" of all the groups supporting Catalonia's self-determination. In addition, Camats disclosed that Izquierda Plural group at the Spanish Parliament, which is formed by Izquierda Unida (IU) and ICV, will vote in favour of transferring the referendum powers.