The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, reacted on Friday evening to the Spanish Executive's appeal against November 9's alternative consultation vote on independence. Mas guaranteed that the vote will take place, because "it cannot be stopped". In addition, he has accused the Spanish Government chaired by Mariano Rajoy of "abuse of power and abuse of legal process", since "it is using the Constitutional Court to solve its problems" and is using "the appeal to hide its lack of political capacity".
"The Constitutional Court will not recover its legitimacy by doing the job that the Spanish Government is not able to do", he added. Furthermore, he emphasized that the Spanish Executive had at first been "downplaying" and "mocking about" the alternative vote, but "two weeks later" it considers it to be a great threat to democracy and it appeals against it. By doing this, the Spanish Government "has crossed the line into the ridiculous", he added. The Catalan President announced three immediate actions to be taken. Firstly, it "will complete the operation" for the participatory process to take place, which "is almost ready". Secondly, he has ordered the Catalan Government's legal services to analyse how to complain about the Spanish Executive's "abuse of power" in order "to protect the Catalan Government's powers on citizen participation". Finally, Mas is keeping the door open to call an urgent meeting of Catalonia's National Alliance for Self-Determination, which bring together more than 3,000 political, business, social, cultural and sports organizations in order "to protect November 9's participatory process".
On Friday evening, after the Spanish Government filed the appeal against the alternative consultation vote on independence, the Catalan President emphasised that such an alternative participatory process is not based on the decree that had been temporarily suspended by the Court a month ago. In fact, he underlined that he made two announcements regarding such a suspension: the first one was that the decree would not be used, therefore obeying the Court, but the second one that the Catalan self-determination process would keep moving ahead through other means. Mas explained that on the 14th of October, taking into account that the Spanish Government did not allow a proper and democratic vote on independence, he launched an alternative participatory process to take place on the same day.
"It is not a referendum" because of the Spanish Government's obstacles
On top of this, Mas acknowledged from the first moment that such an alternative and non-binding vote was not referendum and did not have all the democratic guarantees precisely because the Spanish Government was impeding it. In fact, he said on the 14th of October that the "definitive vote" would come with early elections transformed by the running parties into a plebiscite on independence, with all the democratic guarantees. However, on November 9, the Catalan Government is using its legal powers on citizen participation to ask citizens a question "in order to know the citizenry opinion about Catalonia's political future". Mas stated that they would have liked to hold a proper vote on the issue, but that the Spanish Government's obstacles make it impossible. He compared the situation with "somebody having his leg broken by somebody else, who then accuses the first person of being lame".
"The Spanish Government has crossed the line into the ridiculous"
Furthermore, the Catalan President reminded the press that on the first days after the alternative vote had been announced, the Spanish Government had been "downplaying it in public" and "was making fun out of it". However, "if what we are doing is so serious" that the Spanish Government is now appealing against it, "why they did not do it in the first place instead of laughing about it?" he wondered. By doing this, "the Spanish Government has crossed the line into the ridiculous", he stated.
In addition, he considered that Rajoy's Executive is "abusing its power" and accused it of "abuse of the legal process". According to Mas, the Spanish Government is throwing on the Constitutional Court's shoulders the political problems it should be solving in the first place. "This does not help the Constitutional Court to recover its legitimacy", he said, which is already quite damaged. Mas stated that he had requested the Catalan Government's legal services to analyse how to complain about the Spanish Executive's "abuse of power" in order "to protect the Catalan Government's powers on citizen participation".
Besides, Mas pointed out that "the Spanish Government is emphasising in international forums that it allows pro-independence parties to run in the elections", therefore, this proves that such an option is democratic within Spain. However, when people are being directly asked about independence it stops it by all means, the Catalan President complained.
The Spanish Government cannot stop the vote from happening
"What the Spanish Government wants to stop cannot be stopped because it is not what is happening", Mas said. "We are not doing a hidden referendum" and the Spanish Government is acting as if we were doing one. "What we are doing is a citizen participation process", which is not binding and which aims to ask citizens about their opinion. The Catalan President reminded the press than more than 40,000 volunteers have signed on and therefore civil servants are not obliged to participate, as the Spanish Government is falsely saying. In addition, 942 of the existing 947 town halls in Catalonia are backing the alternative vote. Finally, the information about the voting places has been issued and everybody knows where to vote, and the ballots are ready.
For all these reasons, the participatory process cannot be stopped, Mas stated. The Spanish Government "wants to create confusion and fear, and to delegitimize the Catalan political process at international level, but they will not achieve it", he concluded.