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Spanish president offers Catalonia vote on self-government but not independence

"We have not protested on the streets for 10 years for more self-government or for a new statute,” says Esquerra spokeswoman


03 September 2018 06:15 PM


ACN | Barcelona

The pro-independence movement has consistently called for a referendum, and while the Spanish government now seems willing to agree to a vote, it would not be on independence, but on a new statute defining the extent of Catalonia’s self-government -but always within Spain.

In a radio in interview on Monday morning, Spanish president Pedro Sánchez suggested resolving the political conflict in Catalonia by a holding “a referendum on self-government, but not one on self-determination.”

Sánchez said his government aims to allow Catalans to vote on a new Statute of Autonomy, which provides the legal framework covering the rights and obligations of citizens in Catalonia, as well as its financing, political institutions and reserved powers.

Catalan Statute changed by court in 2010

“Catalonia has a statute that it didn’t vote for,” said Sánchez, who claimed that it meant there would be no problem in Catalans having their say again on the law. Although Catalonia’s current statute passed a referendum in 2006, Spain’s Constitutional Court changed the text four years later after a legal challenge by the PP party.

Pro-independence reaction

Yet, Sánchez’s proposal did not win over the pro-independence parties. The Esquerra party’s (ERC) spokeswoman rejected the idea. “We have not protested on the streets for 10 years for more self-government or for a new statute,” said Marta Vilalta.

  • "The debate in Catalan society is not about the Statute of Autonomy"

    Elsa Artadi · Catalan government spokeswoman

Vilalta urged Sánchez to “tackle the fundamental issue” in Catalan society, the country’s right to self-determination. “This is the issue for which we have to find a solution and provide an answer,” she said, adding that the resolution to the conflict is to be found “at the ballot box.”

Later, in a press conference, Catalan government spokeswoman Elsa Artadi responded to the Spanish president, saying that most Catalans want to vote on self-determination. "The debate in Catalan society is not about the Statute of Autonomy," she said.

Referring to the 2006 referendum on self-government, Artadi pointed out that the result was not respected at the time and that “the main consensus for many years, with broad majorities, revolves around the right to decide,” she said.

People's Party: "Hidden pact"

Meanwhile, the unionist People’s Party in Catalonia (PPC) also rejected Sánchez’s proposal, with party leader Xavier García Albiol calling it “evidence” of a “hidden” pact with the pro-independence parties for the Spanish president to “win” more time in office.

Albiol went on to warn the Spanish president that his proposal is doomed to fail. “If Sánchez thinks that Puigdemont and Torra will be satisfied with a Statute that does not contemplate the right to self-determination he is living on another planet.”


  • Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez (by Rafa Garrido)

  • Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez (by Rafa Garrido)