society

1.4 million Catalans signed international complaint against Rajoy for banning self-determination vote

January 19, 2015 11:50 PM | ACN

The document will be sent to the United Nations, the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The Spanish Government “violates the Catalan people’s right to decide its own political future and bans the exercise of democracy through a referendum or an internationally standardised consultation vote”, reads the complaint, signed by 1,386,628 citizens and 3,703 elected representatives such as mayors and MPs. They complain about the “Spanish Government’s anti-democratic attitude”, which ignored an electoral mandate from 2012 to hold a legal and binding self-determination vote in Catalonia, among other facts. The signatures were collected during the symbolic vote on independence held on 9 November by the civil society organisations Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural, as well as by the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI). 

Catalans to have ‘de facto’ referendum on independence via early elections on 27 September

January 14, 2015 10:55 PM | ACN / Gaspar Pericay Coll

The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, has announced early elections to be held on the 27th of September this year, which will become a ‘de facto’ referendum on independence from Spain. Before then, the Catalan Government and Parliament will continue to develop some basic state structures, such as Catalonia’s own tax administration and Social Security system. The governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU and the opposition left-wing pro-independence party ERC have now “rebuilt” their parliamentary stability pact for the current term after weeks of public disagreements and confusion over the next steps of the self-determination process. After a long meeting on Wednesday evening between Mas, the ERC’s President Oriol Junqueras and representatives from the main civil society organisations supporting independence, they have also agreed on running separately but sharing the same road map to build an independent state from the day after the elections, if a majority of Catalans vote for this option. 

Catalan President: the self-determination process has “to continue and end well”

January 13, 2015 05:46 PM | ACN

The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, assessed on Tuesday the Executive’s work during 2014, which he found to be “positive” overall, although he admitted there are still many people in great need and many social and economic challenges ahead. Referring to the current debate on whether to call early elections transformed into a ‘de facto’ referendum on independence from Spain, Mas promised immediate decisions to be announced on Thursday. Before taking the definitive decision and after weeks of admitted “confusion”, the Catalan President wants to hold a last round of talks with the main civil society organisations supporting independence and the left-wing pro-independence party ERC – with whom the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU has shared a parliamentary stability agreement for the last 2 years. “I will not slack” in the self-determination process, Mas stated.

Catalan President and left-wing independence party have not yet reached an agreement on early elections

January 12, 2015 09:34 PM | ACN

After weeks of negotiations, the President of the Catalan Government and leader of the centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, Artur Mas, and the President of the left-wing pro-independence party ERC, Oriol Junqueras, have still not reached an agreement on whether to call early elections and whether to run together or separately. These elections should become a ‘de facto’ referendum on Catalonia’s independence from Spain. On Friday, it seemed they were close to an agreement, but in the evening it was obvious they had still some issues to discuss. During the weekend representatives from both the CiU and the ERC called on each other to close the deal. However, on Monday, the deal was yet to be closed and the main civil society organisations behind the massive pro-independence demonstrations from 2012, 2013 and 2014 are starting to lose their patience. Furthermore, the rest of the political parties have been highly critical of the long weeks of talks.

Catalan President proposes 3 electoral scenarios to left-wing independence leader

January 9, 2015 09:43 PM | ACN

The President of the Catalan Government and leader of the centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, Artur Mas, has sent a letter to the President of the opposition left-wing pro-independence party ERC, Oriol Junqueras, in which he has proposed 3 different formulas for early elections being transformed into a ‘de facto’ referendum on independence from Spain. Mas and Junqueras disagree about whether to run together or separately, and also whether these elections should be to firstly negotiate independence with Spain and later ratify independence through a referendum, or to directly proclaim independence and draft a Constitution. On Friday, after weeks of negotiations between Mas, Junqueras and the main civil society organisations backing independence, the Catalan President is making a public move to unblock the current situation, which is discouraging many pro-independence supporters. 

Citizens queue in front of Supreme Court to plead guilty for symbolic independence vote

December 23, 2014 04:55 PM | ACN

Hundreds of citizens have pled guilty in solidarity with the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, Vice President, Joana Ortega, and Catalan Minister for Education, Irene Rigau, who are being prosecuted by the Spanish authorities for having authorised and co-organised the symbolic vote on independence that took place on 9 November. On Tuesday morning, citizens queued to plead guilty in front of Catalonia’s Supreme Court. This comes a day after the Court launched a judicial investigation on the criminal complaints against three members of the Catalan Government filed by a few individuals, extreme-right organisations and the Spanish Public Prosecution Office, whose Director is directly appointed by the Spanish Government. The solidarity campaign is organised by the civil society association that organised the largest pro-independence rallies of the last 2 years, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC). Many leading politicians are also pleading guilty and all the parties in Catalonia, except the Spanish nationalist ones, have come out in protest against the penal prosecution of the Catalan Government on account of a political issue.

Supreme Court accepts prosecution of Catalan President for symbolic vote on independence

December 22, 2014 09:15 PM | ACN

Catalonia’s Supreme Court (TSJC) has accepted all the criminal complaints filed against the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, Vice President, Joana Ortega, and Catalan Education Minister, Irene Rigau, for having authorised the non-binding and symbolic vote on independence that took place on 9 November. However, it rejected all the complaints filed against other politicians and civil servants, such as mayors and school directors. The TSJC will finally launch a judicial investigation for “alleged disobedience” after charges were pressed by several individuals and organisations, including the Spanish Public Prosecution Office, whose Director is appointed by the Spanish Government. In fact, the official prosecution of members of the Catalan Executive by the Spanish authorities has been extremely controversial. Pro-independence civil society organisations are organising a solidarity campaign, through which individual citizens will plead guilty for participating in November’s vote. Meanwhile, the Catalan Government insisted they acted in the correct manner.

Green Socialist leader highlights the need to vote on social issues and budget cuts besides independence

December 15, 2014 09:53 PM | ACN

Joan Herrera, the leader of the Catalan Green Socialist and post-Communist coalition ICV-EUiA, also held his own conference on Catalonia's political future and self-determination road map, after those of the Catalan President, the Spanish Prime Minister and three other political leaders. Despite supporting Catalans' right to vote on independence, Herrera rejected exclusively voting on independence, since after years of budget cuts and corruption scandals, citizens also have to vote on social issues and measures to clean up the democratic system. Herrera strongly criticised the austerity measures approved by the centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU and the People's Party (PP). The ICV-EUiA does not have an official position regarding independence and about half of its leadership and voters would support it, while the other half supports greater powers for the Catalan Government within a federal Spain.

Heightened meetings of Catalan President and ERC leader towards running together in early elections

December 10, 2014 09:44 PM | ACN

Meetings between pro-independence politicians and civil society organisations are being held and will increase over the next few days, in order to explore the possibilities of forming a shared electoral list to run in early Catalan Parliament elections, which should be transformed into a 'de facto' referendum on independence from Spain. However there are two main obstacles for this scenario. Firstly, the President of the Catalan Government and leader of the centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, Artur Mas, is reluctant to call early elections if a shared candidature with the left-wing pro-independence party ERC - open to many independents - is not formed. Secondly, the President of the ERC, Oriol Junqueras, wants to run separately, highlighting the need to debate on social issues and corruption as well. This Wednesday, Mas and Junqueras met and have agreed to increase their talks in the coming days.

Catalans start voting in festive atmosphere, without police blocking access or identifying volunteers

November 9, 2014 11:19 AM | ACN

The citizen participation process on independence has kicked off at 9am on November 9 despite the temporary suspension of the Constitutional Court. Finally, the 1,317 voting centres hosting 6,695 polling stations have opened their doors without major incidents, as has been confirmed by the Catalan Government. Long queues of voters were waiting to cast their ballot in a festive atmosphere from early morning. The vote is being run by 40,930 volunteers, but the Catalan Executive is actively behind the process. During the day it will offer turnout figures and it should announce the results on Monday. The ballot boxes are located in high-schools run by the Catalan Government or in municipal centres in small towns and villages. A delegation of international observers is monitoring the process. Several Spanish nationalist parties and organisations have filed judicial complaints asking for the vote to be stopped and members of the Catalan Government to be arrested. In addition, the Public Prosecutor Office – obeying the Spanish Government –asked the Catalan Police to identify the volunteers opening the voting centres, but the Catalan Government refused to do so as they had authorised volunteers to access public venues.

"Nobody can guarantee we will be able to vote on November 9", states pro-independence civil society organisation

November 8, 2014 08:09 PM | ACN

Carme Forcadell, President of the civil society organisation Catalan National Assembly (ANC), stated that if citizens are able to cast their vote on November 9, the participatory process will already be "a success". However, she warned that "nobody can guarantee we will be able to vote on November 9 because the Spanish State will use all the resources against the freedom of expression" of the Catalan people. In fact, she pointed out that there have already been "threats" sent by the Spanish Government to members of the Catalan Executive, volunteers and high-school directors. "It's very important that the world knows our situation", she highlighted. Nevertheless, she hoped that Catalans will be finally able to vote on Sunday. "The 9th of November is very important [as] it is one step forward towards independence", she emphasised. However, a clear democratic mandate will come from early Catalan Parliament elections.

Catalan Government actively backs November 9 vote but volunteers will be in charge of its execution

November 7, 2014 08:05 PM | ACN

The National Alliance for Self-Determination, which groups more than 3,000 civil society organisations and public institutions, met on Friday and gave its support to holding the participatory process on Sunday despite the temporary suspension by the Constitutional Court. In addition, the Catalan Government committed itself to continuing to be behind the participatory process, after several people had speculated during the last few days that it would transfer the vote's organisation to civil society organisations. The Catalan Government has guaranteed that its venues (mainly high-schools) will be opened on Sunday and will host ballot boxes. In addition, it will back town halls and volunteers if there is any judicial problem. However, the actual execution of the voting process will be entirely run by volunteers. In addition, the National Alliance and the more than 3,000 organisations that are part of it will be also backing Sunday's participatory process and will share the responsibility.

November 9 is "using freedom of expression" to say "we are looking for a new relationship" with Spain

November 6, 2014 09:00 PM | ACN

The President of the civil society association Òmnium Cultural, Muriel Casals, stated that "the mere fact of going with a ballot to the polling station" is "already a success" and will show that "the Catalans' tenacity is stronger that the Spanish State's repression". In an interview with the CNA, Casals stated that "the Spanish democracy has an important failure" as it does not allow "Catalans to vote on our future". Therefore November 9's citizen participation process "is a first step towards using freedom of expression […] to say what we are saying: we are looking for a new relationship" with Spain. The President of one of the grass-roots associations that organised the 3 massive pro-independence demonstrations in 2012, 2013 and 2014 complained that Catalans "have not been recognised as a people with our own culture, with our own language, with our own economic needs, by the different Spanish Governments". Therefore "the best thing" is "to become a new state in Europe", she concluded.

Catalan President to offer Spanish PM the opportunity for dialogue after November 9's vote

November 5, 2014 09:27 PM | ACN

The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, announced on Wednesday that next Monday he will send a letter to the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, to assess November 9's participatory process and to offer a negotiation for organising a definitive referendum on independence. Mas made such an announcement the day after the Constitutional Court suspended November 9's vote and after the Catalan Government confirmed that the participatory process will still take place on Sunday. The Catalan President emphasised that November 9's vote "is not a referendum to declare independence" and he said that those making these declarations "are lying". Mas emphasised he has respected the suspension of the original consultation vote, launching a citizen participation process instead. "If such a process cannot be carried out in a normal way, then Spanish citizens should think about Spain's democratic quality", he concluded.

Catalan Government keeps November 9’s participatory process on-going despite Constitutional Court’s suspension

November 4, 2014 08:47 PM | ACN

On Tuesday, Spain’s Constitutional Court accepted to take into consideration the Spanish Government’s appeal against Catalonia’s participatory process about independence, which has been organised by the Catalan Executive as an alternative to the original consultation vote that was banned by the Spanish authorities five weeks ago. The Constitutional Court has unanimously accepted the Spanish Prime Minister’s new appeal, which brings the automatic and temporary suspension of the object appealed against until a definitive decision is reached. However, the Catalan Government emphasised that the participatory process is still in place, since it is different to the original consultation vote. In addition, it will file a complaint to the Supreme Court against the Spanish Government for not respecting Catalans’ basic rights and freedoms.