Monday, October 6, 2014

October 15, the deadline for holding November 9 vote with enough democratic guarantees

The Spokesperson for the Catalan Government and Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, stated that between the 13th and 15th of October a decision has to be reached on whether or not the self-determination consultation vote can take place on the 9th of November. 

Considering that Catalan authorities want to hold such a vote with enough democratic guarantees and that the Constitutional Court has temporarily suspended its direct preparations, Homs argued that there is a deadline for the possibility of restarting direct preparations in order to vote on the 9th of November with such democratic guarantees. He noticed that obviously these preparations "cannot start on the 7th or 8th of November". 

According to the Catalan Government, if the Constitutional Court lift the temporary suspension before mid-next week, specifically before the 15th of October, they will still have enough time to put everything in place in order to hold the 9th of November's self-determination vote. However, 1 of the 7 members of the consultation vote's Control Commission (the electoral body supervising it) did not think the same and he announced his resignation on Sunday evening. Joaquim Brugué thinks that such "democratic guarantees" are already missing in order to hold such a vote in almost one month´s time due to the Constitutional Court's temporary suspension. 

Furthermore, Brugué stated that he thinks that Catalan authorities know that such a vote will not take place and that they are making "putting on an act" in order to later "prepare something else", referring to plebiscitary elections. All the parties supporting November's vote stated they respected Brugué's resignation, although they did not share his arguments, insisting that they are committed to having a self-determination vote on the 9th of November with enough democratic guarantees.

According to the Catalan Government, if the Constitutional Court were to lift the temporary suspension of the self-determination consultation vote in the coming days, authorities would still have the time to prepare the 9th of November's consultation vote and guarantee a fully democratic process. However, according to Francesc Homs, there is a deadline for this: somewhere between the 13th and the 15th of October, he said. Homs explained that some processes and actions related to the vote could be delayed and organised a few days later. However, not everything can be left to the very last minute. For instance, some citizens will be called to sit in the polling stations and supervise the voting process. This cannot be improvised 2 days before voting and requires a few weeks of preparation. Therefore, according to Homs, if the Constitutional Court lift the suspension before the 15th of October, there will still be time to hold the 9th of November's vote. After this deadline, according to him, such a vote would not be possible on that specific day.

The ERC is "surprised" by the deadline

The left-wing independence party ERC, which shares parliamentary support with the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU and is one of the pillars of the self.-determination process, was said to be "surprised" by Homs' words. All the parties supporting November's vote hold a day-long meeting on Friday to decide the next steps. According to the ERC, Homs' statements are not part of what they discussed on Friday, since they agreed that the 9th of November's vote will take place.

November vote control commission's member resigns for lack of democratic guarantees

Furthermore, on Sunday evening, Joaquim Brugué, who is 1 of the 7 members of the Control Commission on consultation votes, announced his resignation. The members of such a Control Commission were appointed on Wednesday by the Catalan Parliament, including Brugué, who holds a Political Science chair at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB). Their appointment was ratified on Thursday by the Catalan President. The Commission met over the weekend and on Sunday evening Brugué announced his resignation via Twitter. According to him, due to the Constitutional Court's temporary suspension the campaign cannot be launched and civil servants cannot work on the direct preparations. Furthermore, the institutions organising the vote are not neutral enough, since they go beyond asking for participation and many argue in favour of the independence option.

In addition, he stated that he was thinking that Catalan authorities were somehow "putting on an act" by pretending that the vote will take place on the 9th of November, when they "are preparing for something else". Brugué argued that a consultation vote on Catalonia's political future has to take place, but with full democratic guarantees which at the moment, due to the current context, are not fully guaranteed. Parties supporting November's vote said they respected Brugué's decision but insisted that they do not share his arguments.

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