Catalan government announces date of indy referendum

The pro-sovereignty parties which form a majority in the Catalan parliament have jointly agreed the date and question of a referendum on Catalan independence.  The referendum is scheduled for 9 November 2014, and will comprise a two part question.

The first question will ask “Do you want Catalonia to become a state?”  (In the original Catalan: Vol que Catalunya esdevingui un estat?)  with two possible responses, yes or no.

Those who have voted yes to the first question will be asked a second: “In the affirmative case, do you want this state to be independent?”  (in the original Catalan, En cas afirmatiu, voleu que aquest estat sigui independent?)

The date and question for the referendum were agreed by the leaders of the CiU, ERC, ICV-EUiA, and CUP parties.   The parties held a joint press conference in the Palau de la Generalitat, the seat of the Catalan parliament, to announce the historic vote.

Artur Mas, president of the Catalan government and leader of the CiU said: “Everyone who wants a change of political status will be able to vote for it, and everyone who wants an independent state will be able to vote for that.” Mas thanked the “understanding, generosity, cooperation and sense of country” of all the parties that have signed the agreement.

He added, “We know that what we have in our hands has a great historical significance and a very important future. We had to live up to the occasion.”

Oriol Junqueras, leader of the ERC, the minority party in the coalition governing Catalonia, said that the referendum “had to be as inclusive as possible, had to give the opportunity to the majority of Catalan citizens and overcome and improve the current situation.”  He added: “We have agreed this formula, with one question in two parts, which permits the mobilisation of the majority of Catalan civil society and permits the pro-independence majority to achieve a clear victory.”

However the anti-independence parties and the Spanish government have reacted negatively to the news.  Alicia Sánchez Camacho, leader of the Partido Popular in Catalonia said:

“Artur Mas is deceiving the Catalans because he knows that the consultation will not be held because it is illegal and the Constitution does not permit it.  Today Mas has lied to the Catalans by promising a Catalan consultation…  Today is a day in which the Catalan Government has chosen confrontation and the division of the Catalans…  The Government of Spain will guarantee the unity and concord of all Spain.”

She added:  “The government of Spain does not negotiate with those who propose illegal acts such as Artur Mas and the rest of the politicians have done today.”

Meanwhile Jorge Fernández Díaz, the PP representative from Barcelona who holds the post of Spanish minister of the interior, said that today’s events in Catalonia were not welcome, and blamed “irresponsible representatives” – alluding to the CiU and the ERC.  Speaking to journalists in the Congress in Madrid, he guaranteed that the Spanish Government will not permit the referendum to take place, saying: “We’ve not all lost our common sense,” and adding that the referendum was “fundamentally inconstitutional”.

On Thursday evening, the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy issued a statement condemning the decision of the Catalan Parliament to press ahead with a referendum.

He said: “The consultation is unconstitutional and will not be held.  It strikes against the indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation, for which reason my Government will not negotiate nor authorise something which is the property of all Spaniards.  It is for them to decide what is Spain and how it will be organised, no Government can cede what belongs to all Spaniards.”

He insisted that Catalonia must comply with the law, and added:  “This consultation will not be held.  That is beyond discussion and all negotiation.”

Despite the negative response from Madrid, the news that Catalonia’s pro-sovereignty parties have agreed a question and date for the referendum was welcomed by groups and organisations campaigning for independence.

Carme Forcadell, leader of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), which was one of the organisers of the recent Via Catalana during which 1.6 million Catalans formed a human chain to demand the right to self determination, said that the ANC was fully behind today’s announcement. Ms Forcadell added:

“9 November will also be a symbol of our freedom.  We will work even harder in order that there is a massive yes in November …  now we will work for a Yes and a Yes.”

Muriel Casals, leader the forum Òmnium which works to develop and encourage the use of the Catalan language, said:

“Today is a day of hope, 9 November will be a statement of victory for us.  We are about to become a normal country.”

7 comments on “Catalan government announces date of indy referendum

  1. Scaraben says:

    “Opinion polls suggest Catalans are evenly split over independence.

    The EU and Nato have warned that Catalonia would be excluded if it broke away from Spain.”

    So says the BBC news website. And we know how trustworthy they are, on anything relating to independence.

    I saw somewhere that the Catalan independence parties may, if they are prevented from holding a referendum, use the next election for the Catalan Parliament as a plebiscite. I hope they do get their independence, even if they have to go down the route of UDI.

    • weegingerdug says:

      I wrote about the most recent Catalan poll I could find in a previous post.

      It showed a large majority in favour of independence, and was in line with previous polls showing the same thing. No idea where the BBC gets the idea that Catalans are evenly split, unless they’re counting the don’t knows and won’t votes as no voters.

      • Tony Little says:

        Probably counting the dead a well. The UK has “history” in that regard! Good luck to all those striving for an independent state of Catalonia. I wonder if Margaret Curran would agree that this is an example of Nelson Mandela’s legacy of “the capacity of people to govern themselves, and make the right decisions in their own interests”

      • Scaraben says:

        Probably the BBC are relying on the same methodology as those who keep saying only 30% of Scots back independence – pick the opinion poll most heavily weighted against independence and then, as you say, imply that everyone who is not for independence is against it.

        I do not remember reading anything to back up the BBC’s claim with respect to the EU and NATO, and am wondering whether you can shed any light on this.

        • weegingerdug says:

          The Spanish government regularly says that it would veto Catalan membership of the EU and other international bodies, and would refuse to recognise Catalonia as an independent state. This is quite different from what it says about an independent Scotland by the way – something else you probably don’t remember reading in the BBC’s pages.

          Assuming Catalonia made a unilateral declaration of independence, that could give it an international status not unlike Kosovo or Abkhazia and make other countries less likely to recognise it. NATO won’t admit a new member which has territorial claims on an existing member state, and Spain would assert that Catalonia has made a territorial claim on Spain.

          The truth of course, is that there is absolutely no certainty about what would happen. Many Catalans hope to internationalise the dispute, so that there is mediation at international level. They believe that’s the only way to bring Madrid to the negotiating table without making any preconditions that Catalonia will not become independent.

  2. Amicus Curious says:

    Great work again Paul, and nice to see this also posted on NNS. The Spanish dimension is very important, if very selectively reported of course by our media bubble, who are not exactly Euro savvy hipsters. I suspect the BBC’s reluctance to report the truth of Spanish polls is deliberate: best not to offer any succour to those braveheart fanatic cybernats…:p

    Of course it is a reminder of how different things are here. Professors Boyle and Crawford might have opined that Scotland ceased to exist in 1707, subsumed within a re-imagined, re-named and extended English polity, but the reality of course is very different (though I am not sure the fact they could only be bothered to read Tom Devine’s ‘The Scottish Nation’ says much for their historical research skills!). We are fortunate in a way that the Union was never complete, with Scottish legal, religious and educational institutions protected. That often made argument, that the independence we seek isn’t really independence because we want to retain some of the ‘goodies’, the currency, the monarch etc. neglects the fact that the Union was never entire or complete at conception, and that was precisely the point. The only person who ever had a vision of a truly united Britain, in laws, religion and institutions, was James VI and I, but very few in the early seventeenth century (save atypical intellectuals such as Hume of Godscroft or Frances Bacon) shared his utopian vision.

    Why does all that matter? Because it is precisely because the Union of 1707 was not complete that we can have our current debate. Our history and constitutional settlement is completely different to that in Catalonia. I don’t believe our national history provides the answer to Scotland’s future, though it unquestionably provides a framing context. Our Catalan friends have a much larger obstacle, a far more convoluted history, without the subsistence of political institutions as we have, with even the Catalan language having at times a tortuous history. For the Catalans history works against them, Mr Rajoy’s Spain as he imagines it is a unitary indissoluble state. Our Union has always been incomplete, I just hope we have the sense to seize the democratic opportunity that we have. For despite the optimistic announcement today, a Catalan referendum is still very much on an uncertain footing. We are lucky here, I just hope people appreciate the chance we have. If we don’t we may regret it for a very long time…

  3. […] Catalan government announces date of indy referendum […]

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