The Catalan President hopes the Spanish Prime Minister will answer the letter to organise a self-determination vote
The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, is expecting an answer from the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, to the letter sent on Friday which formally asked for a self-determination vote to take place in Catalonia. “I think Rajoy will answer the letter, but we will see when and how he does so”, stated Mas on Monday. The letter was sent in order to formalise in an explicit manner the willingness of the majority of the Catalan people to hold a self-determination referendum to decide on Catalonia’s collective future and its hypothetical independence from Spain. The formal request was part of the parliamentary stability agreement between the governing Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) and the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC).
Barcelona (ACN).- The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, is expecting an answer from the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, to the letter sent on Friday, which formally asked for the a self-determination vote to take place in Catalonia. “I think Rajoy will answer the letter, but we will see when and how he does so”, stated Mas on Monday. A few hours later, the Spanish Prime Minister’s office was announcing Rajoy will answer the letter “but in due time”, emphasising it was “a complicated week” with the funeral of the high-speed train accidents’ victims in Galicia and a Spanish Parliament plenary session about the corruption case allegedly affecting Rajoy. The letter was sent in order to formalise in an explicit manner the willingness of the majority of the Catalan people to hold a self-determination referendum to decide on Catalonia’s collective future and its hypothetical independence from Spain. The formal request was part of the parliamentary stability agreement between the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) – which runs the Catalan Government – and the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC). According to the latest opinion polls and last November’s electoral results, almost 80% of Catalans would back the organisation of a self-determination vote. In addition, the latest poll indicated that 55% of Catalans would vote for independence in a referendum while 23% would vote against it and the rest are still undecided or preferred not to answer the question. The parties backing Catalonia’s independence from Spain praised Mas’ letter while the political forces defending unity with Spain criticised the initiative.
The Catalan self-determination process goes one step further with the formal request made by the President of the Catalan Government to the Spanish Prime Minister to organise a self-determination vote in Catalonia. Artur Mas expressed to Rajoy “the need to launch talks and a negotiation process to allow, in an agreed way, the Catalan people to vote” on their hypothetical independence from Spain. Mas stated that the vote should be held “in the briefest possible time and within the legal frameworks that we decide”. The Catalan President argued that there is in Catalonia “a wide citizen and parliamentary support, a willingness to talk and negotiate, and the existence of legal ways” to hold the vote. In addition, he also reminded Rajoy that other countries, some “within the European Union”, have found ways “to democratically and legally solve such types of challenges” and, therefore, Spain should not be the exception.
Mas attached an expert report pointing out five different legal ways to hold a self-determination vote
In the letter, Mas attached a 200-page report compiled by 14 Catalan recognised experts in law, sociology and humanities. The report was presented last Thursday and Mas was waiting for it before sending the letter. The 14 experts indicated five different legal ways to hold the self-determination vote, including a “legitimate” unilateral declaration of independence if – and only if – the Spanish Government refuses any negotiation and the Catalan people widely vote for parties explicitly supporting independence in an election. In fact, the report admitted that whether a self-determination vote agreed with the Spanish Government can be held in Catalonia is a matter of “political willingness”; if the Spanish Executive wants to allow such a vote, there are legal ways to make it happen.
Mas admits he thinks Rajoy’s answer will be negative, but he emphasises the need for the formal request
During the weekend, some people stated it was useless sending a letter to the Spanish Government asking for allowing a self-determination vote. Mas justified the need to send a formal request in order “to do things right” in order to ask for an “agreed” vote. However, he recognised he thinks the answer will be negative since Rajoy has already told him “in person”. The Catalan President insisted on the need to send the letter to convince “those sceptical” and “the international community” about the willingness of the majority of Catalans to hold such vote.
The parties supporting independence praised the letter and those opposing it, criticised it
Political parties have reacted during the weekend and on Monday to the Catalan President’s letter. The governing CiU – which is led by Mas – fully backed the Catalan President’s action and insisted in the need to go step-by-step in the self-determination process. The ERC – which is the second largest party in the Catalan Parliament – praised the letter and they emphasised they will be “expectant” as to whether there is an answer or not. In addition, they insisted that, after the letter, “nobody can pretend there is not a formal petition to hold the vote”. The Catalan Green Socialist and Communist Coalition (ICV-EUiA) asked Rajoy to answer the letter in spite of the doubts they have about the usefulness of the initiative. The ICV-EUiA would have preferred that the request came from the Catalan Parliament as a whole, where 80% of members are in support of holding a referendum agreed with the Spanish Government. The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) considered that the letter “is the excuse” to break up with Spain, as “it is demanded by the ERC”. The conservative People’s Party (PP), which runs the Spanish Government, announced that Rajoy will answer the letter, but they stated the Spanish Constitution does not allow for such a vote and they downplayed the expert report stating that the Constitutional Court is the only body that can interpret whether there are legal ways to hold such a vote. Finally, the anti-Catalan nationalism and populist party Ciutadans (C’s) stated the letter was “an attempt” to provide “a totally illegitimate process” with “legitimacy”.