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.

Opposition parties file two requests to launch parliamentary investigations into Pujol's fraud

September 3, 2014 09:58 PM | ACN

As it was announced on Tuesday, all the opposition parties except the Catalan Socialists (PSC) have filed requests to create investigation committees at the Catalan Parliament as a result of the fiscal fraud confessed by the former President of Catalonia, Jordi Pujol, and other offenses he or his entourage could have allegedly committed. Two requests were filed separately on Wednesday morning, one presented by left-wing parties supporting self-determination (ERC, ICV-EUiA and CUP) and the other presented by the two Spanish nationalist parties (PP and C's). The first one aims to check whether there have been cases of "fraud, fiscal evasion and political corruption […] in the context of Pujol's case" and "in the context of public-private contracts […] during the last decades". The second one aims to scrutinise "the existence of bank accounts in fiscal paradises owned by current or former officials of the Catalan Government, their illicit gain and/or the earning of illegal commissions".

Pujol accepts to give explanations to the Catalan Parliament but he will do it after the 22nd of September

September 2, 2014 08:27 PM | ACN

On Tuesday, as it was expected, the Catalan Parliament has approved to request that the former President of Catalonia, Jordi Pujol, provides the Chamber with further explanations about his family's fiscal fraud which he confessed to in late July. The request has been unanimously approved, including by the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, which was led by Pujol for three decades. The former Catalan President has accepted to appear in front of the Parliament despite it not being "obligatory", as he noted down. However, he asked to do it after the 22nd of September "in order not to interfere" with the self-determination process and "the high political voltage events" of the coming days. The opposition parties supporting self-determination are angry with Pujol's delay and will ask for a parliamentary investigation committee to be launched.

Parties supporting self-determination vote collectively reaffirm their will to vote on November 9

August 20, 2014 09:27 PM | ACN

After the controversy of the last few weeks about whether the independence consultation initially scheduled on the 9th of November might be postponed if the Spanish authorities were to ban it, the 4 Catalan Parliament groups supporting this vote appeared together on Wednesday and reinstated their commitment to such a consultation. They reaffirmed their unity of action and their will to vote even if the Constitutional Court bans the call, based on the Law on Consultation Votes to be approved by the Catalan Parliament in September. Leading figures from the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, the left-wing Catalan independence party ERC, the Catalan green socialist and post-communist coalition ICV-EUiA and the radical left and independence party CUP emphasised that the "people had democratically elected to decide on their collective future through the polling station".

Catalan President: the only plan is to vote on November 9 and partisan fights have to be kept aside

August 13, 2014 10:06 PM | ACN

After doubts generated in the last few days around the possibility of postponing next November's independence vote and Tuesday's quarrel among the forces supporting self-determination, the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, has cooled tensions down. On Wednesday, Mas emphasised that the Catalan Government's only plan is to vote on this 9th of November, as was agreed among a wide majority of parties. In addition, he also asked the parties to put partisanship aside and "to take risks and [act] smartly". Mas stated that, if the Spanish authorities ban the self-determination vote, the reaction will be agreed among all the parties supporting such a vote. With these words, Mas rejected the idea that the Catalan Government will automatically postpone the vote if the Constitutional Court bans it, as was suggested on Tuesday by the Catalan Vice President, Joana Ortega. Her words and previous statements launched an immediate response from all the other parties which insisted that Catalans had to vote on that day.

Self-determination forces clash over possibility to postpone 9th November vote if Spain blocks it

August 12, 2014 09:04 PM | ACN

In the last few days, the centre-right pro-Catalan state coalition CiU, which runs the Catalan Government, has sent several messages suggesting that the self-determination vote scheduled for the 9th of November would not take place on that day if the Spanish authorities managed to declare it illegal, despite that fact that it would be backed by Catalan legislation. At first it was the President of the Catalan Executive, Artur Mas, who stated that "the only plan is to vote", being on the 9th of November consultation or later through plebiscite elections. The last message was sent this Tuesday by the Catalan Vice President, Joana Ortega, who said that "if the [Spanish] State puts obstacles in front of the vote on the 9th of November" the vote will be postponed. The rest of parties that support the self-determination vote – ERC, ICV-EUiA and CUP – replied to Ortega, saying that Catalans have to vote on that day. In addition, the two grass-roots organisations behind the pro-independence demonstrations of 2012, 2013 and 2014 have stressed that they "will not give up on voting on the 9th of November".

Former Catalan President Jordi Pujol gives up all his benefits and will face a parliamentary committee

July 29, 2014 09:04 PM | ACN

The historical leader of conservative Catalan nationalism, Jordi Pujol, who chaired the Catalan Government between 1980 and 2003, has been forced to give up all his honorary titles, his pension and his office as former President due to the fiscal fraud to which he confessed on Friday. Furthermore, all the opposition parties demanded that Pujol provide further explanations to the Catalan Parliament. The veteran politician explained that he had kept a fortune in an Andorran bank since 1980, which was not reported to the tax authorities during almost 35 years. The confession arrived after two years of rumours and news regarding his family's fortune and after several of his sons faced judicial investigations for alleged fiscal offenses. The news shocked Catalonia's society since Pujol was a widely respected figure, regardless of individual ideology, and played a crucial role in Spanish and Catalan politics.

Jordi Pujol's fiscal fraud becomes a threat for self-determination process

July 28, 2014 09:35 PM | ACN

Catalan politics and society are shocked after Jordi Pujol, President of the Catalan Government between 1980 and 2003, confessed on Friday evening that his family had €4 million in Andorra for 35 years which had never been declared to the tax authorities. Madrid-based media and politicians have immediately linked Pujol's scandal to Catalonia's self-determination with the aim to delegitimise the process since the retired politician had been the historical leader of the conservative Catalan nationalists. Parties supporting self-determination have distanced themselves from Pujol, including CDC, the Liberal party he founded in 1974 during Franco's dictatorship that now runs the Catalan Government. It is expected that Jordi Pujol (84) will resign as CDC's Founding President in the next few hours. His confession comes after his family and particularly two of his sons have been targeted by the media and judicial investigations for corruption since 2012.

Rajoy considers self-determination vote "absurd" and rejects discussing it with the Catalan President

July 17, 2014 05:41 PM | ACN

The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, stated on Wednesday that he "will not join absurd debates" and will not "participate in the game" to negotiate Catalonia's self-determination vote since "the referendum is illegal and will not take place". Ironically, Rajoy accepted the request of the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, to meet, but he has specifically rejected to talk about the purpose of the interview: the self-determination vote. In addition, the Spanish PM has downplayed the agreement backed by a two-third majority of the Catalan Parliament, which was answering a mandate resulting from the 2012 Catalan elections. On the same day the Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, rejected "reinventing Spain" to better fit Catalans and therefore ruled out a deep Constitutional Reform. In addition, he also rejected setting up a new fiscal scheme for Catalonia, similar to the one that the Basque Country already has.

The Catalan bill on Consultation Votes passes its last-step-but-one with 80% of parliamentary support

July 17, 2014 01:10 AM | ACN

The future Law on Consultation Votes, which should enable the organisation of a self-determination vote in Catalonia on the 9th of November, has been approved by the parliamentary committee in charge of drafting it and sending to the plenary for the final approval in late September or early October. It has passed with the support from all the parties – including the Socialists (PSC) – except the Spanish nationalist People's Party (PP) and Ciutadans (C's), which only hold 20% of the Catalan Parliament's seats. Since the Spanish authorities are not authorising a binding referendum on independence, Catalonia is developing its own legal framework. This law was already foreseen in the Catalan Statute of Autonomy, which is Catalonia's main law and was approved by the Spanish Parliament and the Catalan people through a binding referendum in 2006.

Catalan President assures parties that any change on the self-determination vote will be agreed with them

July 16, 2014 10:50 PM | ACN

Before meeting with the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, the President of the Catalan Government and leader of the Centre-Right pro-Catalan State Coalition CiU, Artur Mas, contacted the other parties that agreed to organise a self-determination vote on the 9th of November in order to explain to them how he envisages the talks that will take place in Madrid. Mas guaranteed them that they would be consulted on any possible change regarding the question wording or the date on which the vote would be held so that a consenus could be reached between them. Yesterday, and on several other occasions, the Catalan President stressed that he is open to negotiate with Rajoy about alternative questions and dates for the self-determination referendum. However, what is non- negotiable for Mas, and the majority of Catalan parties, is that Catalans have to vote very soon on their own political future and on their relationship with Spain.

Cold and expectant reactions from Catalonia to the new King's coronation

June 19, 2014 08:11 PM | ACN

Catalan parties welcomed the new King in a cold manner, and some were even directly absent from the coronation and participated instead in events in favour of a republican regime. However, after a few days of uncertainty, the President of the Catalan Government and leader of the Centre-Right pro-Catalan State CiU, Artur Mas, attended the ceremony in Madrid. Despite the fact that CiU did not give its explicit support to the King's succession, the CiU representatives were all present at the ceremony, although without showing enthusiasm. In addition, Mas insisted that he continues with his "wait and see" attitude, as the King's speech "did not offer anything new". Meanwhile, representatives from the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) did not attend the ceremonies, neither did representatives from the Catalan Green Socialist Coalition (ICV-EUiA), who participated in a small pro-republic demonstration in Barcelona at the exact same time the new King was swearing the Constitution.

A modern King respecting self-determination or a new Republic: the reactions from Catalonia

June 2, 2014 09:21 PM | ACN

Catalan parties, business associations and other institutions have reacted  to the abdication of King Juan Carlos announced this Monday morning. All the left-wing parties except the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) – which is part of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) – have called for a referendum on the monarchy's continuity and the instauration of a Republic. In fact, a series of demonstrations were held in several Catalan cities demanding a new Republic. The other widespread reaction came from those not questioning the monarchy, although all of them ask for a "modern King." Instead, most of them ask Crown Prince Felipe to be sensitive to the Catalans' will to self-determination and they expect he will act as a mediator to enable a negotiated way out to the current political conflict.

Legal framework for $6 billion mega-casino and amusement resort BCN World approved

May 29, 2014 10:08 PM | ACN

The Catalan Parliament has finally approved the legal framework allowing the construction and the activities of the BCN World mega-resort, to be located next to PortAventura amusement park in the Costa Daurada. Now, the company Veremonte has the final green light to start construction, after it already had announced the first investors some months ago. Casino giant Melco, hotel brand Melià, US Hard Rock, Value Retail shopping malls and Investindustrial, which owns PortAventura, will participate in the $6 billion project. Furthermore, Ferrari announced it will build its first theme park in Europe there. BCN World involves 6 mega-casinos, large-size hotels, shopping malls, convention centres, theatres, golf courses, parks, a beach club, technology institutes and smart city developments.