Catalan government insists there will be ballot boxes for independence referendum
Executive pledges to resist Spanish pressure and explore other legal avenues to provide polling stations with means to vote on October 1 after accreditation process declared null
There will be ballot boxes for the independence referendum on October 1, insists the Catalan government, despite nullifying the accreditation process to supply them. In a news conference following the Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, the Minister of the Presidency Neus Munté said the government will analyze the legal means to ensure the aim of providing ballot boxes for the vote remains “intact”, despite canceling the tender process and in the face of pressure from Spanish authorities.
While the government spokesperson did not specify the means, Munté insisted “no contraption” other than ballot boxes would be used. Assuring the press that the government remains firm in its aim to provide ballot boxes for the vote, Munté said she was convinced it also has the legal right to do so: "We will analyze the legislation and the existing legal means to achieve this aim," she said of the options open to the executive. The government will choose the best formula that offers the most guarantees to achieve the final aim of having its own ballot boxes, she insisted.
In explaining the reason for the nullification of the accreditation process, Munté said that the two companies bidding to supply the boxes did not meet the technical requirements due to “an issue of financial solvency”. Stressing there was “nothing extraordinary” about companies not attaining tender accreditation due to a failure to meet the technical requirements laid down by law, Munté did not reveal whether the government had a plan B in place to cover such a scenario. The minister limited herself to saying that the companies in question, Plastic Express and UTE made up of Espai World and Suministros Integrales Futbida, did not meet the "formal and technical" requirements for accreditation.
While drawing short of attributing the cancelation of the tender process to pressure from the Spanish government, the presidency minister confirmed that the government had received threats from the Madrid authorities. "We calmly keep to the same message and demand that the Spanish executive stop threatening the institutions and companies carrying out their obligations with total normality," she added.
Munté suggested that the public prosecutor’s suit against the Minister of Governance, Public Administrations, and Housing Meritxell Borràs was "precautionary" and had no legal basis, as can be seen, she claimed, by the fact that the tender process for the ballot boxes will not go ahead. "What the public prosecutor should do is withdraw the complaint, which makes no sense," she concluded.
Meanwhile, the Spanish government linked the nullification of the accreditation process with the decision by Catalonia’s High Court, the TSJC, to admit the public prosecutor’s suit against minister Borràs and former secretary general, Francesc Esteve. Sources in La Moncloa accuse the Catalan executive of ending the tender process to avoid legal consequences arising from the trying of Borràs and Esteve for disobedience, perversion of justice and misappropriation of public funds after they signed the agreement for the accreditation of the two companies bidding to supply the ballot boxes.
Tender “a mess”
Reaction to the affair quickly came from the parliamentary spokesman for the C's party, Fernando de Páramo, who called the process to purchase the ballot boxes a “mess”. In a news conference in the Catalan Parliament on Tuesday, Páramo said that the Catalan executive’s decision to nullify the tender process was another sign that the October 1 vote will be “just another 9-N”, in reference to the non-binding referendum that took place on November 9 2014.