The political summit for Catalonia's right to self-determination decided to include civil society
However, the participating political parties could not agree on a plan to organise a self-determination vote: some would like to combine the organisation of the vote with the creation of state structures while others ask for neutrality and refuse to identify self-determination as a solution to Catalonia’s economic crisis. The President of the Catalan Government and leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), Artur Mas, called for a summit to discuss ways to obtain the right to self-determination and be able to organise a referendum on this issue. All the parties supporting self-determination, including the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), participated in the meeting, as well as the Catalan Government, the four Provincial Councils and representatives from town halls.
Barcelona (ACN).- The political summit organised by the President of the Catalan Government and leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), Artur Mas, to discuss ways to obtain the right to self-determination ended without a major agreement. The participants only agreed to widen the process by including civil society in the debate, which at the moment is mostly undertaken at a Parliamentary level, despite last September\u2019s demonstration supporting Catalonia\u2019s independence from Spain was organised by civil society and 1.5 million citizens participated in the march. All the parties that support self-determination, including the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), participated in the meeting, which took place on Monday at the Generalitat Palace in Barcelona. In addition the Catalan Government, the four Provincial Councils and a representation from Catalonia\u2019s town halls were also present. The participating political parties could not agree on a plan to organise a self-determination vote. The CiU, the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) and the radical left-wing and independence party CUP would like to combine the organisation of the self-determination vote with the creation of state structures. In addition, the ERC and the CUP are in a rush to organise the vote, since they believe \u201Cthe country cannot wait any longer\u201D, as have said in several occasions. The PSC and the Catalan Green Socialist and Communist Coalition (ICV-EUiA) asked the self-determination process to remain neutral regarding the vote results and they also refused to identify self-determination as a solution to Catalonia\u2019s economic crisis. However, all the parties and institutions present agreed to include business associations, trade unions and social and cultural associations in the process, in order to make it participatory and driven by society. All these political, institutional, economic and social agents will come up with a National Pact on the Self-Determination Right, which would define a plan towards the organisation of a referendum.
The PSC was the most reluctant political party to attend the meeting, in part because it is federated to the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) \u2013 which is opposed to the self-determination right \u2013 and because its voters oppose the CiU and the summit was organised by the CiU\u2019s leader. In the hours before Monday afternoon\u2019s summit, the PSC gathered most of the attention since one of its members, the former Spanish Defence Minister Carme Chacón \u2013 who has expressed her wishes to lead the PSOE, criticised Pere Navarro, the PSC Secretary General, for attending the meeting.
One of the summit\u2019s main objectives was to anchor the PSC to the self-determination process. The Catalan President, Artur Mas, offered the PSC the possibility to use the recently created \u2018Council for the National Transition\u2019 to draft reports analysing the options defended by the Socialists. The PSC defends the organisation of a legal self-determination referendum and at the same time is opposing independence from Spain. They believe Spain should become a true federal state with Catalonia in it but having the right to decide whether to stay or quit the federation. The CiU, ERC and ICV-EUiA had a particular interest in including the PSC in the self-determination debates because of this and since it has traditionally been Catalonia\u2019s second largest party and it has a very large presence in many town halls.
Mas asked political parties and institutions to come up with a document explaining the National Pact
The CiU\u2019s Spokesperson in the Catalan Parliament, Jordi Turull, explained after the meeting that the Catalan President and CiU\u2019s leader, Artur Mas, had asked political parties and institutions to come up with a document expressing the objectives, working and composition of the National Pact on the Right to Self-Determination. There is already a first draft of the document, said Turull, with the input from the five political parties participating in the summit (CiU, ERC, PSC, ICV-EUiA and CUP). Turull asked the parties to continue to work towards reaching an agreement and specifically asked the PSC to contribute. In addition, the Catalan Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, admitted there are some differences with the PSC but he made particular emphasis on underlining the fact that all the participating parties share a common objective: Catalonia\u2019s right to self-determination. Homs concluded that \u201Cnobody will distance themselves\u201D from this common objective.
The PSC, out of the National Pact
After the meeting Navarro stated that, considering what they have heard at the summit, \u201Cthe PSC cannot be in the National Pact on the Self-Determination Right\u201D. In addition, Navarro was \u201Coutraged\u201D because the CiU \u201Cis linking the [self-determination] vote to the recovery from the economic crisis\u201D. Navarro asked Mas to be more concerned about the economic crisis, stop the creation of state structures and to not \u201Cact prejudging the vote\u2019s result\u201D. Navarro asked the Catalan President for \u201Cneutrality\u201D in the self-determination process, since the vote has not taken place yet.
\u201CTo guarantee that society will have a leading role in the process\u201D, stated the ERC
The President of the ERC, Oriol Junqueras, said he was satisfied with the meeting because it has been useful \u201Cto guarantee that society will have a leading role in the process towards the right to self-determination\u201D. The ERC has been making particular emphasis on the need to include civil society in the process. In addition, they are insisting on the need to organise the self-determination vote as soon as possible. \u201CUntil this time, the [Catalan] Parliament\u2019s majority has participated in the process. Now we want to open it to the whole society\u201D, Junqueras said. Therefore, according to him, after the creation of the \u2018Council for the National Transition\u2019 and the decision to create a parliamentary commission on the right to self-determination, now comes a National Pact including the whole society.
The ICV-EUiA lamented the fact that the summit ended \u201Cwithout a working plan\u201D
The President of the ICV-EUiA\u2019s parliamentary group and co-leader of the coalition, Joan Herrera, lamented the fact that the summit had started \u201Cwithout a meeting agenda\u201D and had ended \u201Cwithout a working plan\u201D. Herrera stated it is good news that a National Pact on the Right to Self-Determination open to the entire society has been created, since the ICV-EUiA has always defended a participatory process not led by the Government but by the Parliament and society. In this vein, Herrera criticised \u201Can excess of gesturing\u201D made by the Catalan Government regarding this summit and the entire process. He said a meeting as such was not needed and that the names of those participating in the pact could have been agreed in bilateral meetings. He also asked the Government to preserve public services in order to guarantee the Welfare State and reduce inequalities.
The CUP warns that they will not give their support \u201Ceternally\u201D
The radical left-wing and independence CUP stated that they will not be part of parliamentary majorities \u201Ceternally\u201D if \u201Cthe self-determination vote is not organised\u201D soon. According to the CUP\u2019s Spokesperson, Quim Arrufat, the process has to speed up. The CUP asked the CiU and ERC not to use the National Pact as a \u201Cdilatory strategy\u201D in order to delay the vote. They also demanded that the leadership of the process moves from the politicians to the citizens.
The Catalan Government was represented by the President Artur Mas, the Vice President Joana Ortega and the Minister for the Presidency Francesc Homs. The Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, was also present, as well as four representatives from the Catalan municipalities (Miquel Buch, Núria Marín, Lluís Tejedor and Pere Prat). In addition, the Presidents of the four Provincial Councils also attended the meeting: Joan Giraut (Girona), Salvador Esteve (Barcelona), Josep Poblet (Tarragona) and Joan Rañé (Lleida). There were also present representatives from the political parties: Jordi Turull and Toni Font (CiU), Oriol Junqueras and Marta Rovira (ERC), Pere Navarro and Maurici Lucena (PSC), Joan Herrera and Joan Mena (ICV-EUiA) and David Fernández and Quim Arrufat (CUP).