Catalan Parliament approves one of the world’s most pioneering laws against homophobia

October 2, 2014 10:04 PM | ACN

A sweeping majority of the Catalan Parliament has approved a new law recognising the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual people and persecuting homophobia and transphobia. The new law includes fines for homophobic behaviour at the work place and positive discrimination measures, such as having to prove one’s innocence if accused of homophobia (a measure already in place for those accused of domestic violence against women). 80% of the Catalan Chamber has backed the new law and the conservative and Spanish nationalist People’s Party (PP), which runs the Spanish Government, was the only group who voted against the bill, which was filed by 4 left-wing opposition groups. The centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, which runs the Catalan Government, split its votes, as the largest Liberal party CDC completely backed the law and the smallest Christian-Democrat party UDC voted against specific articles, although it did not oppose the entire measure.

Catalan Parliament elects Control Commission for consultation vote and PP threatens to bring MPs to justice

October 1, 2014 08:46 PM | ACN

Based on a report from its legal services, the Catalan Parliament has elected the 7 members of the Control Commission that will supervise the development of the 9th of November's consultation vote on independence. This decision comes the day after Catalan authorities temporarily suspended the direct preparations for November's self-determination vote following the Constitutional Court’s decision to temporarily suspend the law and the decree on which they are based. However, a majority of the Parliament argue that electing the Control Commission would not be a direct action as it does not have any effect, according to the legal services report and previous sentences from the Constitutional Court. However, parties against November's consultation refused to participate in the Parliament's vote. On top of this, the People's Party (PP), which runs the Spanish Government, threatened to take the MPs who elected the Commission to justice.

Catalan authorities appeal against the suspension of self-determination vote but stop direct preparations

September 30, 2014 09:17 PM | ACN

The Catalan Government and Parliament will file allegations against the Constitutional Court's temporary suspension of the Law on Consultation Votes and the decree calling November's self-determination consultation vote. The temporary suspension was approved on Monday evening and entered into force this Tuesday morning. Despite the appeal against the Constitutional Court's action, the Catalan Government has decided to "temporarily" suspend the institutional campaign and direct preparations for the 9th of November's consultation vote on Catalonia's political future. The Spokesperson of the Catalan Government and Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, explained that such a decision was made "to prevent public employees from being backed into a corner", as the Spanish authorities could persecute them.  The left-wing parties clearly supporting independence – ERC and CUP – want to disobey the Court's temporary verdict, but the governing and centre-right CiU as well as the greens and post-communists ICV-EUiA want to continue with the vote's preparations wherever legally possible. In addition, thousands of people are demonstrating in front of Catalonia's town halls against the Constitutional Court's decision.

Constitutional Court temporarily suspends Catalonia's self-determination consultation vote

September 29, 2014 10:09 PM | ACN

The Constitutional Court has accepted the Spanish Government's two appeals filed on Monday against the 9th of November's self-determination vote decree and the Catalan Parliament's law on which it is based. This decision automatically means the temporary suspension of the law and the decree, a suspension which could be extended after 5 months should the Court not have yet reached a definitive verdict. In addition, it also suspends "the rest of actions" deriving from the law or the decree's implementation, including those taken "by third parties". The decision has been made in an urgent and non-scheduled plenary meeting, which was organised just 5 hours after the Spanish Government had filed the appeals. The Constitutional Court's plenary never meets on Mondays and its next meeting was scheduled for the 7th of October. The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, has criticised "the supersonic speed" by which the Court has met. Mas asked this body to act as "the referee of all and not only of a part".

"I haven't been a corrupt politician", states former Catalan President Jordi Pujol but doesn't answer questions

September 26, 2014 10:51 PM | ACN

Jordi Pujol, who chaired the Catalan Government for 23 years between 1980 and 2003, has given further explanations about his fiscal fraud confession to the Catalan Parliament but he has not answered the manifold questions from the MPs. Furthermore, Pujol was visibly angry over some accusations launched by Spanish nationalist parties and alternative left MPs. There had been a lot of expectation for this parliamentary hearing for the person who used to lead the centre-right Catalan nationalism from the mid-1970s to the early 2000s, who confessed at the end of July that his family had been storing money in tax havens for the last 34 years without informing tax authorities. In the current political situation of tensions between Catalonia and Spain, with many corruption scandals emerging and with millions of people suffering from the hard effects of the economic crisis, Pujol's confession ignited the atmosphere. On top of this, the former Catalan President had referred on many occasions to the merits of hard work

Catalonia to call self-determination vote on Saturday and Madrid to appeal it on Monday

September 26, 2014 09:49 PM | ACN

The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, will finally sign the decree calling the 9th of November's self-determination vote on Saturday, a week after the Catalan Parliament approved the Law on Consultation Votes with 80% support. Mas will sign the decree surrounded by most of the leaders from the parties supporting November's vote and after having received the explicit support from 92% of Catalonia's municipalities. Besides, the Spanish Government will hold an exceptional Cabinet meeting on Monday (instead of waiting until Friday) to approve the two appeals against the new Catalan law and decree. The appeals will be filed to the Constitutional Court, whose plenary has then to decide whether it accepts them or not. If the Court accepts the appeals, the law and the decree will be temporarily suspended. The next Court's plenary is on the 7th of October, but an extraordinary session could be organised this week.

Catalan Parliament approves law to be used for self-determination consultation vote with 80% support

September 19, 2014 10:08 PM | ACN

The Law on Consultation Votes, which will be used to call the non-binding consultation vote on independence scheduled for the 9th of November, has been approved by 79% of the Catalan Parliament, with the only opposition being from Spanish nationalists People's Party (PP) and Ciutadans (C's). This bill was already foreseen in the 2006 Statute of Autonomy, Catalonia's main law after the Constitution, but it had not been approved yet. Now, once the law is published on Catalonia's Official Journal (DOGC), the Catalan President will immediately sign the Decree calling November's vote. The Spanish Government announced last week it already had two appeals ready to be filed to the Constitutional Court – even though the definitive law had not been approved yet. If the Constitutional Court accepts the appeals, it will immediately suspend the Catalan Law and the Decree for a 5-month temporary period, which could be extended until it reaches a final decision.

Two-third majority of Catalan Parliament reaffirms its commitment with November 9 independence vote

September 17, 2014 09:59 PM | ACN

A two-third majority of the Catalan parliament has approved a motion supporting the self-determination consultation vote, scheduled on the 9th of November, which has to take place "with all the possible democratic and participation guarantees". With this resolution, parties have reaffirmed their commitment to carry out this vote, which will very likely be banned by the Spanish authorities in the coming days. The parliamentary text has been approved with the support of 89 MPs of the 133 representatives who voted (since 2 were ill), a 66.9% majority. The resolution has been approved with the votes of the governing centre-right pro-Catalan state coalition CiU (which brings Liberals and Christian-Democrats together), the left-wing Catalan independence party ERC, the Catalan green socialist and post-communist coalition ICV-EUiA and the alternative and radical independence party CUP, as well as with 3 votes from rebel MPs of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC). The rest of the PSC, the People's Party (PP) and Ciutadans (C's) have opposed the motion.

Left-wing independence party ERC requests to join Catalan Government to protect self-determination vote

September 16, 2014 09:37 PM | ACN

The left-wing independence party ERC asked the Catalan President to join the Government "in order to protect the [self-determination] consultation vote" scheduled on the 9th of November. The Catalan President, Artur Mas, stated that they will talk about it in the coming days to strengthen the unity around November's vote. In addition, the Catalan Socialist party (PSC) also asked Mas to talk to them if the Constitutional Court ultimately bans the consultation vote. The People's Party (PP), which runs the Spanish Government, accused Mas of promoting "a soft dictatorship" in Catalonia. The green-socialist and post-communist coalition ICV stated they want a consultation vote with "credibility". The Spanish nationalist and populist C's said that Mas' time is finished and asked for early elections. Finally, the alternative left and radical independence party CUP advocated ignoring Spain's institutions and voting on the 9th of November by any means.

Son of former Catalan President Jordi Pujol denies having earned illegal commissions before the judge

September 15, 2014 09:31 PM | ACN

The judicial process for alleged tax fraud against family members of the former President of Catalonia Jordi Pujol (who led centre-right Catalan nationalism from the mid-1970s until 2003) has started this week with the testimony of his oldest son, Jordi Pujol Ferrussola, in front of the Spain's High Court 'Audiencia Nacional'. Judge Pablo Ruz is investigating the tax fraud confessed by Pujol senior in late July, which shocked the whole of Catalan society, as well as alleged money laundering, influence peddling and corruption offenses that might have been committed by some of Pujol's sons. This Monday, the oldest son denied having earned any illegal commission and stressed that the tenders in which he worked as an advisor were all carried out at least 2 years after his father left the Catalan Government. He also criticised the annual report drafted by the Spanish Police for being vague and inexact.

Catalan President asks Spain to "listen to" Catalonia's "peaceful and democratic claim"

September 10, 2014 11:54 PM | ACN

In the institutional speech that the President of the Catalan Government makes each year the evening before Catalonia's National Day, Artur Mas asked the Spanish authorities to "listen to the peaceful and democratic claim" represented by Thursday's massive pro-independence rally. "Silencing the voice of a people that want to speak out is a mistake; denying the vote to those who see ballot boxes as the solution and not the problem is a double mistake", stated Mas. Before the institutional speech was broadcasted on TV, Mas attended the flower offering made to the mass graveyard where those who died defending Barcelona in the 14-month military siege were buried 300 years ago. In September 1714, Catalonia was defeated and lost its sovereignty, self-government institutions and its Constitution, and a long, harsh repression started. After the flower offering, a second ceremony started nearby, with music and poetry as the only ingredients.

Spanish PM believes that a self-determination vote could create "difficulties in the markets"

September 10, 2014 11:52 PM | ACN

The day before the massive pro-independence demonstration in Barcelona, the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, once again rejected Catalonia's right to self-determination. Furthemore, Rajoy stated that a self-determination consultation vote or a unilateral declaration of independence would generate "a political problem and difficulties in the markets". Rajoy was answering to an MP from the centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, Josep Sánchez-Llibre. The Catalan MP stated that "what really threatens the [economic] recovery is that, in front of Catalonia's demands, [the Spanish Government] has not even issued half of a political answer that can allow the markets to believe in an agreement and not in it being on a collision course".

Left-wing Catalan independence party ERC backs "civil disobedience" if self-determination vote is banned

September 10, 2014 09:28 AM | ACN

The President of the left-wing Catalan independence party ERC, Oriol Junqueras, stated on Tuesday that "the greatest expression of civil disobedience is voting when they prevent you from voting", referring to the ban that the Spanish Constitutional Court is likely to issue on the self-determination consultation vote scheduled on the 9th of November. Furthermore, Junqueras also stated that he is convinced that the Catalan President will call for the vote and "will put out the ballot boxes". He also added that the ERC could sit at the Catalan Executive if this action were to "fully protect the consultation vote". The Spanish Government is totally opposed to such a vote and has already announced that it will appeal to the Constitutional Court, which has a majority of its members directly appointed by the People's Party (PP). The Court already lost most of its legitimacy in 2010 when it trimmed the Catalan Statute of Autonomy.

The People's Party offer to form a grand coalition against Catalonia's independence is only accepted by UPyD

September 5, 2014 10:08 PM | ACN

On Friday, in Badalona (Greater Barcelona), the Secretary General of the PP, María Dolores de Cospedal, launched the idea to form a wide-spectrum coalition against secession in the next Catalan elections, which should unite all of the parties opposing independence from Spain. However, it has been rejected by the main parties which were targeted, and only the Spanish nationalist UPyD, which gets marginal results in Catalonia, has welcomed the initiative. According to Cospedal, this united list should bring together the PP (running the Spanish Government), UPyD, the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), the anti-Catalan nationalism and populist C's, and the Christian-Democrat UDC, which is part of the two-party centre-right pro-Catalan state coalition CiU, which runs the Catalan Government. The PSC and UDC – which recognise Catalonia's right to self-determination - have totally rejected the idea. Even so, the PP's leader stated that "in Catalonia there is an undercover dictatorship", pushing for "a single way of thinking".

The PSOE's new leader offers Catalan President a Constitutional Reform but rejects self-determination

September 3, 2014 10:15 PM | ACN

The new Secretary General of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), Pedro Sánchez, met on Wednesday in Barcelona with the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, to talk about the self-determination consultation vote scheduled on the 9th of November. Sánchez told Mas that he considers such a vote to be "illegal" and therefore it cannot take place. In addition, he stressed that the PSOE is totally opposed to Catalonia's right to self-determination and underlined that "national sovereignty" belonged to the Spanish people as a whole. However, he said he was proposing "a solution" to the current conflict between Catalonia and the rest of Spain: a reform of the Constitution to transform Spain into a true federal state. Despite this reform, Catalonia would not be considered "a nation". Sánchez underlined that once the agreement on this reform would be reached, Catalans would have the opportunity "to vote" on it. Therefore, for Sánchez, Catalans would only have the choice to vote for the current status quo, or for staying in Spain with greater self-rule but without being considered as a nation.