The President of Catalonia, Artur Mas, said on Friday that the Catalan independence movement is a “democratic example” unparalleled in Europe. In a conference in Barcelona, Mas stated that the current situation in Catalonia –where an overwhelmingly majority of citizens want a vote on the future relationship of the country with Spain- is an important “democratic challenge” that needs to be addressed. “It is an example of a democratic mobilization like few others in the European continent”, Mas said. More than 1 million Catalans took to the streets in 2012 and 2013 asking for independence, but Madrid has refused so far to authorise a referendum. Catalans plan a new large mobilization for the 11th of September in Barcelona.
The Catalan President argued that citizens in Catalonia respect the law and have demonstrated this “constantly” during history. However, he added that they do also know that “the virtue of the law is its capacity to accommodate changing circumstances”. Mas reiterated his petition to the Spanish government to adapt the law to allow a referendum on the independence of Catalonia.
The Spanish government is refusing to authorise a referendum on the future of Catalonia on legal grounds. The Spanish President, Mariano Rajoy, argues that a consultation is illegal under the constitution but refuses to engage in a discussion with the Catalan government to change the law. He also rejects the 5 legal ways identified by a team of experts in Barcelona that would allow a referendum to be held in compliance with the law.
Mas argued that, while in Europe some citizens are seduced by the extreme right or the anti-EU parties, in Catalonia people are showing “positive values” that are radically democratic. The Catalan President said politicians should “stand up to the challenge” and understand that the legal framework should allow citizens to express their democratic wishes.
Mas compared the political situation in Catalonia to that of a river which is about to overflow its banks. “If the people in charge of expanding the river edge don’t do it, they risk an overflow of water”, he warned. “But while a fire can be stopped, it’s not the same with water”, he added, asking Madrid to “canalize” people’s demands.