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The Spanish Socialist Party backs a constitutional reform but rejects allowing Catalonia’s self-determination vote

The leader of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, and the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, secretly met on Sunday in Madrid, along with the Secretary General of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), Pere Navarro. Mas urged the PSOE to include the People’s Party (PP) in the debate on the reform of the Spanish Constitution and he warned that including the right to a self-determination vote is a “basic and essential condition” for a large majority of Catalans. The PSC, despite opposing Catalonia’s independence from Spain, backs its right to vote for self-determination, but Rubalcaba is completely opposed to it and considers it to be “impossible” to ever reach an agreement on such a vote. However, Rubalcaba insisted on the need to find a better relationship between Catalonia and Spain, in order to “remain together for centuries to come”.

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10 April 2013 01:05 AM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The Secretary General of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, insisted on totally rejecting Catalonia\u2019s right to self-determination, although he admitted that there is the need to reform the Spanish Constitution to find a better relationship between Catalonia and Spain, a relationship which at the moment \u201Chas been damaged\u201D, he said. In a radio interview on Tuesday morning, Rubalcaba disclosed more details about Sunday\u2019s secret meeting with the President of the Catalan Government and leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), Artur Mas. Rubalcaba and Mas met in Madrid along with the Secretary General of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), Pere Navarro, to talk about the current political and economic situation away from media scrutiny and political pressure. The existence of such a meeting was revealed on Monday evening, including some details of the conversation. The Catalan President also explained his version of the meeting, which he held because he is \u201Cfollowing the mandate from the Catalan Parliament\u201D to talk and explore all the possible ways to celebrate a self-determination vote in Catalonia. This option is also backed by the PSC, which is federated to the PSOE. In fact, the PSC, despite being opposed to Catalonia\u2019s independence from Spain, backs its right to self-determination, but the PSOE totally opposes it and Rubalcaba said that he considers it to be completely \u201Cimpossible\u201D to ever reach an agreement on such an issue. Therefore, the PSOE leader suggested that they should focus \u201Con how to improve the relationship between Catalonia and the rest of Spain\u201D, abandoning the self-determination claims. Mas insisted that the self-determination vote is \u201Ca basic and essential condition\u201D. Rubalcaba insisted that a territorial reform should be carried out, which would also be convenient for the other Autonomous Communities, in order to find a better relationship between Catalonia and Spain and so they can \u201Cremain together for centuries to come\u201D. Furthermore, the three leaders did agree on the need to relax the 2013 deficit targets for the Autonomous Communities, since most of their spending is to fund basic social services. On this aspect, Rubalcaba praised the great effort made by the Autonomous Communities in 2012 to reduce their budget deficit.


On Tuesday morning, Mas referred to Rubalcaba\u2019s proposal to reform the Spanish Constitution and he urged the PSOE to include the People\u2019s Party in the debate. However, the Catalan President lamented that the PSOE\u2019s Secretary General had acted \u201Clike a wall\u201D regarding Catalonia\u2019s right to self-determination and the celebration of the consequent vote. Mas warned that including the right to self-determination is a \u201Cbasic and essential condition\u201D for a large majority of Catalans and therefore a Constitutional reform without it is likely to be rejected in Catalonia. \u201CWe are willing to talk about Constitutional reforms, but without forgetting at any moment about the claim backed by the majority of Catalans of being able to decide on our future\u201D, explained Mas. According to the results from the Catalan elections held in November and recent opinion polls, more than three quarters of Catalan citizens support the organisation of a self-determination vote to decide on Catalonia\u2019s collective political future. Once the self-determination vote is guaranteed, \u201Clater there will be people wanting an independent state or a confederated state [with Spain], but what is essential and what we cannot give up on is the right to self-determination\u201D, he added. On Tuesday, Mas defended the fact that \u201CSpain and Catalonia should treat each other as peers\u201D in the future. From this mutual recognition, they can form many \u201Calliances\u201D and reach several agreements, including that of forming a federation or confederation.

Pere Navarro, the Secretary General of the Catalan Socialists, stated on Tuesday that after the meeting with Rubalcaba in Madrid he \u201Csaw that Mas at least can hold talks and he can share a general project with the rest of Spain\u201D. Navarro lamented the fact that \u201CMas currently has a pro-independence project with the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC)\u201D. However, Navarro was happy that there is a dialogue between the PSOE, the PSC and the CiU. This dialogue, according to him, allows them to talk about further issues beyond Catalonia\u2019s self-determination process, such as the deficit targets and the economic situation. \u201CThis is very positive\u201D, he added. Navarro stated that Sunday\u2019s meeting was \u201Copen and sincere\u201D and that \u201Ca space for dialogue\u201D has been created.

According to the PSC, the self-determination vote could be held if the Constitution does not explicitly ban it

Regarding the need to find a better territorial organisation within Spain to better suit Catalonia\u2019s claims, Navarro backed the PSOE\u2019s proposal to reform the Spanish Constitution. However, the PSC does back Catalonia\u2019s right to self-determination and would like the Spanish institutions to allow it. Since the PSOE rejects including the right to self-determination in the Constitution, Navarro underlined that this would not be necessary to hold the self-determination vote. \u201CNo Constitution in the world allows such a thing, it would only be necessary not to explicitly ban it and with a political agreement a [self-determination] vote could be held\u201D, he proposed. However, in order to reach such a political agreement, the support from Spain\u2019s two main parties \u2013 PP and PSOE \u2013 is needed. Along with this point, Navarro underlined the fact that he is worried by \u201Cthe PP\u2019s closed-mindedness, acting as if nothing was going on\u201D, refusing to even talk about a Constitutional reform. \u201CI would also like to see how a space for dialogue is created between the PP and the PSOE to move forward on the main issues, but I see the PP is looking towards another direction\u201D, he said. In this vein he praised the commitment to talk of Mas and Rubalcaba.

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  • The Catalan Socialists' leader, Pere Navarro, at the Catalan Parliament on Tuesday (by A. Moldes)

  • The Catalan Socialists' leader, Pere Navarro, at the Catalan Parliament on Tuesday (by A. Moldes)