Friday, October 17, 2014

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

The new self-determination process announced this Monday by the Catalan President is not shared by the majority of Catalan parties supporting the previous non-binding referendum vote, although they also said they will not boycott it. The left-wing parties supporting the previous self-determination vote are hoping that the Catalan Government will reconsider its new proposal and "come back to the consensus" around the initial plans. 
Furthermore, the civil society associations organizing the massive pro-independence organisations have reacted with caution and have stated that they will further analyse the new proposal and will try to work on rebuilding the political consensus around the self-determination process. 
At the same time, 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 they will be "vigilant" and 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), running the Spanish Government, affirmed that Catalonia's "independence process has ended", a statement said on previous occasions in the last two years. Furthermore, Spanish nationalist parties asked for Mas' resignation and early elections.


The announcement of a new "participatory process" with ballot boxes to be held on the same 9th of November, with participants registering in the moment of voting and run by 20,000 volunteers in Catalan Government venues, has provoked a cascade of reactions, both in Catalonia and abroad.

Parties supporting self-determination ask the Catalan Government to reconsider its stance

The left-wing Catalan independence party ERC has regretted that the Catalan Government has "unilaterally broken the consensus" around the non-binding  referendum vote called weeks ago. They stated that they do not share the proposal that was explained to them on Monday. They urged the Catalan Government to reconsider its new plans but, if it does not do so, they "will help as much as necessary" to make sure that this new participatory process is not a failure. However, the ERC's President, Oriol Junqueras, emphasised that the problem is the ban by the Spanish authorities. For Junqueras, the real "solution" to this ban was the previously announced non-binding referendum vote and, if it cannot take place, early elections that would be like a referendum. However, even if the Catalan President also talked about early elections with shared lists, he refused to make any commitment about it now, insisting that firstly parties should clearly agree that the elections are called to declare independence if a pro-independence majority wins them.

The leader of the Catalan green socialist and post-communist coalition ICV-EUiA, Joan Herrera, was visibly angry with the Catalan Government for having abandoned the plan agreed upon among 6 political parties and proposing an alternative "participatory process". Herrera insisted that they are still committed to the previous non-binding referendum vote and hoped that the Catalan Government would reconsider its decision. Herrera explained that they had proposed to keep the previous call and make a "quantifiable citizen mobilisation" on the 9th of November, with Catalans queuing in front of the polling stations closed by the Spanish Government. However, he did not disclose how these polling stations would have been organised and people would have been called to vote with the Spanish authorities' ban in place. The ICV-EUiA's plan also included that citizens would have filed judicial complaints that would have been taken to the European Union institutions, as the Spanish authorities was violating Catalans' fundamental right to vote.

The alternative left and radical independence party CUP hoped that the political unity around the self-determination process is able to be rebuilt in the coming week. This is the amount of time they give themselves to negotiate with the Catalan Government and the rest of political parties. The CUP criticised the new "participatory process" announced on Tuesday morning by Mas, as "there is the risk that it could be transformed into an electoral and partisan event, of personal heroism" in favour of the Catalan President, stated the CUP MP Quim Arrufat. The CUP hoped that the new plans will not take place and it considers the call for early elections to be more likely. However, Arrufat insisted that they are still fully committed to the previous non-binding referendum vote.

The Spanish Government will wait but it is likely to also appeal against new plans

The Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, stated that the Spanish Government "will wait to see the black and white" of Mas' new proposal in order to decide whether it appeals against it or not. However, the Spanish Justice Minister, Rafael Catalá, warned that they will be "vigilant". Catalá stated that if the new alternative process is still "related to independence", "it would have the same vices of unconstitutionality" as the previous call and therefore the Spanish Government will take it to the Constitutional Court for its suspension. However, Catalá added that if the new process is "a survey" that is totally framed within "the participation processes" of which the Catalan Government has powers, it will not appeal against it.

The governing People's Party leader in Catalonia, Alícia Sánchez-Camacho, already suggested this last possibility in the morning, paving the road towards considering the new process a mere "survey", which could be tolerated. However, Sánchez-Camacho also stated that the Catalonia's "independence process has ended", a statement the PP has said on previous occasions over the last 2 years and that has proved to be wrong. According to her, now it is time for "reconciliation" and the PP will launch a campaign with this objective. She also welcomed "Mas' rectification". However, other leading voices within the PP accused Mas of carrying on with further crazy ideas and asked for his resignation.

The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) was disappointed by the acknowledgement that the self-determination non-binding referendum vote cannot take place as it had been planned, since this will "frustrate" many Catalan citizens. However, the PSC leader Miquel Iceta emphasised that they had already warned about this end and frustration. In addition, he criticised Mas' new plans, as he considers them not to be serious. The leader of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), Pedro Sánchez, to which the PSC is federated, considered that Mas' decision "fractures the Catalan society" and creates "frustration". The PSOE, who totally opposes Catalonia's independence and right to self-determination, insisted that the Constitutional Reform grant more powers to Catalonia, which should be voted for by all the Spaniards.

Finally, the leader of the anti-Catalan nationalist party Ciutadans (C's), Albert Rivera, asked for Mas' resignation and for early elections. The populist party C's considered the Catalan Government's new plans to be undemocratic and ridiculous. In fact, Rivera emphasised that the Catalan President had offered a great farce with all the self-determination process and he asked Mas "to stop lying" to Catalan citizens.

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