The Spanish Government initially downplays the human chain for Catalonia’s independence
However, the Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister, José Manuel García Margallo, recognised the “success” of the demonstration. Earlier, the Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, had stated that there was “a silent majority” who “stayed at home” and did not participate in the 1.6 million strong demonstration, since Catalonia has 7.5 million inhabitants. She also insisted in holding “a dialogue within the Constitution”, which means completely rejecting a self-determination vote. The Catalan Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, considered that the Spanish Government emphasising that there was a “silent majority” was an “absurd” statement. Homs added that, if the Spanish Government really wanted to count how many people are against Catalonia’s independence, the best thing is holding a democratic vote on the issue.
Barcelona (ACN).- The day after Catalonia’s National Day and the celebration of the 1.6 million strong human chain supporting independence from Spain, the Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, stated that there was “a silent majority” who “stayed at home” and did not participate in the demonstration, since Catalonia has 7.5 million inhabitants. Saénz de Santamaría added that they will work to have “the freedoms and opinions” of “the silent majority” respected. In addition, she insisted in holding “a dialogue within the Constitution”, which means completely rejecting a self-determination vote. However, a few hours later the Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister, José Manuel García Margallo, explained how he was “concerned” and “sad” about the demonstration, although he recognised it was a “partipation, organisation, logistics and communication success”. Margallo added that demonstrators “should be listened to”, but always “within the Constitution”. The Catalan Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, considered the “silent majority” emphasised by the Spanish Government was an “absurd” statement. He added that, if the Spanish Government really wanted to count how many people are against Catalonia’s independence, the best thing to do is a hold a democratic vote on the issue. The leader of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, emphasised that it is a “very important political mistake” to downplay yesterday’s demonstration. In addition, Rubalcaba also considered it “absurd” to start a debate on how many people were at the demonstration and how many stayed at home.
The Spanish Government is insisting in not authorising a self-determination vote in Catalonia, despite the 1.6 million Catalans that were asking for it on the 11th September with a 400-kilometre-long human chain called the ‘Catalan Way towards independence’. However, the day after the demonstration it sent contradictory messages. On one hand, the Deputy Prime Minister initially downplayed the huge demonstration, stating that there were more people “who stayed at home”, as Catalonia has a population of 7.5 million citizens. Saénz de Santamaría emphasised this is a “silent majority”, who “also have rights”. The Spanish Deputy Prime Minister indirectly assumed this group of people were against independence and emphasised how the Spanish Government will work to have their “freedoms and opinions respected”. Yesterday, an opinion poll from a Madrid-based media stated that 52% of Catalans would vote “yes” in a referendum, while 24% would vote “no”, and 13% are undecided.
The Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister says the demonstrators “should be listened to”
A few hours later, José Manuel García Margallo, recognised the human chain as being a “participation, organisation, logistics and communication success”. Furthermore, for the first time a member of the Spanish Government stated that demonstrators “should be listened to”. However, in line with Madrid’s approach up until today, he insisted that a self-determination referendum is out of question and that the dialogue has to be framed “within the [current] Constitution”. He also said it is time “to find out about the causes” of why so many Catalans feel “detached” from Spain. The Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister added he was “concerned” and “sad” about the human chain, and he noted how it was negative for Catalonia’s and Spain’s image abroad.
The Catalan Government answers the “absurd” statement from Saénz de Santamaría
The Spokesperson of the Catalan Government and Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, answered the Spanish Deputy Prime Minister’s statements. Homs considered it was “absurd” to refer to “a silent majority”, after the 1.6 million people demonstration. However, he took the opportunity to say that if the Spanish Government really wants to know “who supports one thing or the other”, the best solution is to authorise an independence vote and do it as soon as possible, in 2014. In addition, he said he believes the Spanish Government will change its statement regarding a self-determination vote “sooner than later” and he does not rule out holding a vote agreed with Madrid.