Potential pro-independence coalition after Catalan elections turned into independence plebiscite

October 16, 2014 09:11 PM | ACN

After the cancellation of the original consultation vote scheduled for the 9th of November, parties are preparing for hypothetical early elections, transformed into a de facto referendum on independence. The parliamentary stability alliance between the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU and the opposition left-wing Catalan independence party ERC is seriously damaged. This affects the approval of the Catalan Government's budget for 2015 and a potential electoral alliance in such a plebiscite on independence. CiU, formed by the Liberal CDC and the Christian-Democrat UDC, and social-democrat ERC were the three main parties within the pact for the consultation vote scheduled. As preparations for the 9th of November would have required breaking Spanish law, tensions between them were raised. After the pact was broken, there have been efforts to work together again on different fronts, while UDC is looking for new allies.

Preparations for alternative independence vote kick off while Madrid hesitates to act against it

October 16, 2014 09:07 PM | ACN

The Catalan Government is gradually disclosing details and starting preparations for the alternative consultation process on independence that will take place on the 9th of November, which replaces the consultation vote also scheduled on that day. Meanwhile, the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, celebrates "the excellent news" about the Catalan Government abandoning the previous consultation vote, which had been temporarily suspended by the Constitutional Court. The Spanish Government and the People's Party (PP), chaired by Rajoy, would not want to raise the profile of the minor new vote by acting strongly against it. It seems they are hesitating whether to appeal against it or to tolerate it, in spite of Catalans still being called to cast a ballot about independence from Spain in a non-binding participatory process.

Trivialisation of Nazism by Spanish nationalists outrages German CDU and Catalan civil society

October 15, 2014 09:02 PM | ACN

Comparing Catalonia's self-determination process with the Nazi regime has become one of the arguments the Spanish nationalists have used over the last two years, repeated in extreme-right television stations and even at the Spanish Parliament. Such an offensive comparison outrages most of Catalan society, for its total unfairness in describing a democratic process and for trivialising Nazism and the suffering of its victims. Now, the issue has reached the European Parliament, where the Spanish nationalist party UPyD sent a letter to all 751 MEPs comparing the situation in Catalonia with that of "Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s". The CDU MEP Ingeborg Grässle was outraged by the letter and urged UPyD "to at least apologise". "Any politician in Germany would have immediately resigned", she added. Besides, civil society organisations in Barcelona have filed a complaint to the Public Prosecutor Office against dozens of calumnies against self-determination process and its comparison to Nazism.

Madrid is waiting to react to new self-determination plans while parties supporting the previous vote are puzzled

October 14, 2014 08:46 PM | ACN

The new self-determination process announced this Monday by the Catalan President is not shared by the majority of parties supporting the previous consultation vote, although they also said they will not boycott it. The left-wing parties supporting the previous vote are hoping that the Catalan Government will reconsider its new proposal and "come back to the consensus" around the initial plans. In Madrid, the Spanish Government will wait to see the "black and white" of the new proposal in order to decide whether to appeal against it or not. However, the Spanish Justice Minister warned that if the alternative vote is also about independence, "it would have the same vices of unconstitutionality" and would be taken to the Constitutional Court for its suspension. After hearing Mas' new proposal, the People's Party (PP) affirmed that Catalonia's "independence process has ended". Furthermore, Spanish nationalist parties asked for Mas' resignation and early elections.

Catalan President announces alternative vote on November 9 although early elections will be "the definitive referendum"

October 14, 2014 05:56 PM | ACN

The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, ruled out the consultation vote already called for the 9th of November and agreed upon among a majority of Catalan parties, in face of the opposition from the Spanish authorities. However, he announced an alternative "participatory process" on that same day, in which 20,000 volunteers throughout Catalonia will run the polling stations, located in Catalan Government venues, and people would register just before voting. Mas believes that this new vote does not openly challenge the Spanish authorities' ban, while it is an alternative way to vote on the 9th of November, as promised. However, he also admitted that such a process is not comparable to a proper referendum and stated that "the definitive referendum" would be early Catalan Parliament elections, where parties would transform it into a plebiscite on independence. The first reactions have been sceptical, both in Barcelona and Madrid.

Catalan Government rules out consultation vote as such but will propose an alternative for November 9

October 14, 2014 12:21 AM | ACN

Parties supporting the self-determination vote scheduled for the 9th of November have met on Monday in Barcelona to discuss whether to carry on the consultation vote as is currently planned or to launch an alternative, in view of the total opposition from the Spanish authorities. According to two parties present at the meeting, the Catalan Government has ruled out the organisation of the consultation as it has been proposed by the decree that has been temporarily suspended by the Constitutional Court. Instead, the Catalan Government has proposed organising a “participatory process” on the same day, using the legislation that has not been suspended by the Spanish authorities. This alternative will be disclosed on Tuesday morning by the Catalan President, Artur Mas. The Spanish Government has already said it will also appeal against such an alternative. The left-wing Catalan independence party ERC has announced it will not back such an alternative and proposes a unilateral declaration of independence.

Unionists organised rally for 3rd consecutive year, but much smaller than pro-independence one

October 13, 2014 04:16 PM | ACN

On Spain's National Day, the 12th of October, the unionist association called Catalan Civil Society (SCC) organised a massive demonstration against Catalonia's self-determination and independence in downtown Barcelona, which was backed by the People's Party (PP) – running the Spanish Government, the anti-Catalan nationalist party Ciutadans (C's) and the Spanish nationalist party UPyD. It is the 3rd consecutive year that a demonstration has been organised to support Spain's unity on the 12th of October in the Catalan capital.  As happened on the two other occasions, organisers failed to fill up Catalunya Square although they gathered thousands of people carrying Spanish and Catalan flags. According to Barcelona's Police, 38,000 participated in it, while according to the Catalan Police 1.8 million people participated in the rally for the consultation vote and independence a month ago.

FC Barcelona publicly supports Catalonia’s self-determination, following leading Catalan sportsmen

October 10, 2014 08:13 PM | ACN

FC Barcelona has joined Catalonia’s National Alliance for Self-Determination, which groups together more than 3,000 organisations, such as chambers of commerce, employers’ associations, trade unions, political parties, NGOs, etc. The world famous sports club therefore backs Catalonia’s self-determination process and will participate in this group that works to push it forward. Furthermore, in the last few weeks leading Catalan sportsmen such as Xavi Hernández, Gerard Piqué, Pep Guardiola, Cesc Fàbregas, Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Aleix Espargaró and Pol Espargaró have given their explicit support to Catalonia’s right to hold a self-determination vote to decide on its own political future, regardless of whether they would vote for independence or not. In fact, only Guardiola has openly backed independence, although none of the others have specified being against it.

Judge persecuted for writing draft of Catalan Constitution defends his freedom of expression in his free time

October 10, 2014 08:00 PM | ACN

The Disciplinary Commission of Spain’s Judicial Power Council (CGPJ) will have to decide whether it suspends Santiago Vidal, judge of Barcelona’s High Court, for having worked in his free time on the drafting of a proposal for a future Catalan constitution in the event of independence, together with other law experts. The CGPJ judge in charge of investigating other judges, Antonio Jesús Fonseca-Herrero, recommended Vidal’s temporary suspension for “infidelity to the Constitution” of Spain. On Friday, the Catalan judge defended his freedom of expression and argued that this activity did not affect his work as he was doing it during his free time. The CGPJ decided to investigate Vidal, despite not having done the same with judges participating in activities of the People’s Party political think tank, for instance.

Constitutional Court dismisses request by Catalan Parliament to sideline its 2 members suspected of bias

October 9, 2014 08:58 PM | ACN

Spain’s Constitutional Court has unanimously decided to reject the Catalan Parliament’s requests to sideline 2 of its 12 members from the debate and final verdict on the law and decree regarding Catalonia’s self-determination consultation vote. The Catalan Parliament considered that the Court’s President, Francisco Pérez de los Cobos, and the rapporteur on the appeal against the Catalan Law on Consultation Votes, Pedro José González-Trevijano, were not impartial on this issue. Pérez de los Cobos has been a member of the People’s Party – which runs the Spanish Government – and González-Trevijano has worked with the PP’s think-tank. In addition, they both share extreme Spanish nationalist stances: the first one has publicly insulted Catalan identity on several occasions and the second one has defended the maintenance of the shrine where Franco remains are exposed.

Alternative consultation vote on independence to also take place on November 9 fades away

October 8, 2014 08:11 PM | ACN

Both the Catalan Government and the main pro-independence civil society organisation ANC are rejecting the possibility to organise an alternative self-determination vote on the 9thof November if the official one, which has already been called, cannot take place. Furthermore, the ANC's President would back the organisation of early plebiscitary elections if the Spanish authorities were to totally block the current self-determination consultation vote and therefore impede a process with full democratic guarantees, as reported by Bloomberg on Wednesday. Besides, on the same day, the Catalan Government denied that it is considering organising an alternative consultation vote on the 9th of November if the current call cannot not take place. Their denial comes after press speculations pointing in to this direction, published in the last few hours.

Spanish nationalist party UPyD files complaint against Catalan President for "disobedience"

October 8, 2014 08:09 PM | ACN

In addition, the Spanish nationalist and populist partyUPyD compared Catalonia's self-determination process with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, in a letter sent to all the 751 Members of the European Parliament. Furthermore, it states that "defending democracy in Europe" means stopping Catalonia's "illegal referendum", thus denying the existence of a Catalan nation.  Furthermore, after the recent measures adopted by Catalan authorities to organise a non-binding consultation vote on independence, UPyD – with no representation in Catalonia – filed on Wednesday a judicial complaint at the Supreme Court against the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, and most of the members of the Catalan Parliament's Bureau, including its President, Núria de Gispert. UPyD accuses all them of "disobedience" while Mas has also been accused of "an alleged prevarication offense", as well as of "usurpation of powers" and "embezzlement".

Catalan Government specifies "there is no deadline" for November's vote and insists it will take place

October 7, 2014 11:14 PM | ACN

On Tuesday the Spokesperson for the Catalan Government and Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, emphasised that "there is no deadline" to decide whether the self-determination consultation vote will take place, which is scheduled for the 9th of November but which has been temporarily suspended by the Constitutional Court. The previous day, Homs had stated that between the 13th and 15th of October a decision should be made regarding some of the preparations for the vote, since they cannot be put in place just before opening the polling stations, a statement which was widely interpreted as a deadline. This statement caused an upset reaction by the government's ally, the left-wing independence party ERC. Moreover, the Catalan Government has appointed the members of the 7 territorial electoral bodies that will supervise November's vote and has started to receive registration petitions from foreign-national voters.

October 15, the deadline for holding November 9 vote with enough democratic guarantees

October 6, 2014 09:20 PM | ACN

The Spokesperson for the Catalan Government and Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, stated that between the 13th and 15th of October , a decision must be reached on whether or not the self-determination consultation vote can take place on the 9th of November. Considering that Catalan authorities want to hold such a vote with enough democratic guarantees and that the Constitutional Court has temporarily suspended its direct preparations, Homs argued that there is a deadline for the possibility of restarting direct preparations, since "they cannot start on the 7th or 8th of November". Therefore, according to the Catalan Government, if the Constitutional Court lifts the temporary suspension before mid-next week, they will still have enough time to put everything in place in order to hold the 9th of November's self-determination vote. However, 1 of the 7 members of the vote's Control Commission did not think the same and announced his resignation on Sunday evening.

Parties supporting November's independence consultation agree to carry on with calling vote

October 3, 2014 09:26 PM | ACN

The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, has organised a meeting with the parties supporting the 9th of November's consultation vote on independence in order to agree the next steps to be followed after the Constitutional Court's temporary suspension. They have agreed to keep the 9th of November's call but, at the close of this edition on Friday evening, they had debating during the whole day on how to guarantee a legal and democratic vote. The meeting was supposed to end at lunchtime, but it has carried on until the evening and participants do not rule out the possibility of continuing discussions over the weekend. A wide range of political parties, representing 65% of the Catalan Parliament (ranging from the Christian-Democrats to the Alternative Left), have to decide whether the 9th of November's call will be kept until the end or if they will call for early elections within a few days, with or without the possibility of forming a national unity government.