miércoles, 26 de noviembre de 2014

CATALONIA -- Catalan News Agency - Catalan President ready to call early elections to achieve independence from Spain in 18 months

Catalan News Agency - Catalan President ready to call early elections to achieve independence from Spain in 18 months

Catalan President ready to call early elections to achieve independence from Spain in 18 months


Barcelona (ACN).- The President of the Catalan
Government, Artur Mas, gave a solemn speech on Tuesday evening in
Barcelona to propose the next steps in Catalonia’s self-determination
process. “It is time for the definitive consultation vote” on
independence to take place, Mas stated after 2.3 million people
participated in a symbolic vote on independence on November 9. Taking
into account the Spanish Government’s no-to-everything attitude over the
last 2 years, the “only tool” to allow citizens to decide on their own
collective future as a nation is early elections to the Catalan
Parliament, organised within the current legal framework, he emphasised.
Mas affirmed being “ready” to call such elections but under a specific
condition: parties and civil society organisations have to transform
them into a ‘de facto’ referendum on independence, as otherwise there is
no need for early elections, he stressed. However, Mas highlighted the
urgent necessity to become an independent state in order to have “the
tools” to improve the lives of citizens and to better fight poverty,
unemployment or corruption, after “the Spanish State has let us down” on
many occasions. Now,political parties should be “generous” and
respected personalities and professionals from the Catalan society
should run in a single list that should clearly stand for independence,
making other issues secondary, according to Mas. If such a list obtained
an absolute majority, independence should be negotiated with Spanish,
European and international organisations within the next 18 months.
People forming this list should commit to only run once and the Catalan
President said he was ready to be this list’s front-runner but also to
end it, the latter case ruling out the possibility of his being elected.
In these 18 months, the new state’s basic structures should be built
and a citizen participation process should be launched to debate the new
Constitution. Then, after those 18 months, constituent elections and a
referendum to ratify the achieved independence should be called, with
political parties taking a main role once again. Mas did not disclose
when the early elections should be called but he said that the entire
process to build the new state should be finished by the end of 2016.
Therefore, early elections should be called within the next 6 months,
during which time Mas also insisted that parties have to better explain
what the independent state will be like.

On Tuesday evening, the Catalan President proposed a road map for
the next two years: early elections to the Catalan Parliament and, if a
single pro-independence list get an absolute majority, negotiations to
reach full independence in 18 months. Mas recognised that there will be
parties that will not recognise the plebiscite nature of these early
elections. Hence, he stressed, the importance of running in a single
list that supports, without any doubts, the creation of an independent
Catalan state. In addition, partisan fights and ideologies ¨should be
put aside” for the benefit of “shared ideals”, Mas stated. The Catalan
President recognised that the process and steps ahead are “difficult”,
but he asked citizens and parties to think of the generations to come
and of the “people who gave their lives” in the past to grant Catalans a
better life. In fact, Mas highlighted that independence was not an
objective in itself but a means to obtain “better” and “more tools” to
improve the lives of citizens.

Mas gave his speech in Barcelona’s Fòrum Auditorium in front of 3,000
people. He emphasised that he was speaking “as the President of
Catalonia”, and not on behalf of the Government nor any political party.
The audience clapped on many occasions during the 1-hour-and-20-minute
speech, particularly when he was referring to the Spanish authorities
prosecuting him, the need to form a single list, to not call elections
if they are not transformed into an independence plebiscite, the promise
not to run again after the next elections and the opportunity to build a
country with less corruption.

The ERC leader was present

Within the audience, were all the members of the Catalan Government
and many representatives from several political parties, business
associations and civil society organisations. Among the attendees, the
leader of the left-wing Catalan independence party ERC, Oriol Junqueras,
was present, which was significant taking into account the increasing
speculation that he could run together with Mas. However, there were
also important absentees such as the historical ‘number 2’ of Mas’
coalition; Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, who leads the Christian-Democrat
party UDC, the smallest force within the governing centre-right
pro-Catalan State coalition CiU. In fact, two days ago, Duran presented his own political platform that supports granting Catalonia more powers within Spain, pointing towards CiU’s likely division.

There was great expectation for Mas’ speech after November 9’s symbolic vote.
The Catalan President did not want to rush after the citizen
participation process and at that time he announced he was taking two
weeks to reflect on the next steps. He also held a round of talks with political parties supporting self-determination
to gather their views and proposals. Furthermore, he sent a last offer
to the Spanish Prime Minister to negotiate a mutually-agreed
self-determination referendum, but Mariano Rajoy rejected the offer.
In fact, the Spanish Government has been rejecting all offers of
negotiation during the last 2 years and has ignored all the
self-determination demands from Catalonia.

The Spanish Government has been ignoring “the absolute majority” for Catalonia’s self-determination

During his speech, Mas made an overview of the Spanish Government’s
attitude for the last 2 years, but also of the relations between
Catalonia and Spain for a longer period of time. He highlighted Rajoy’s
blocking and no-to-everything attitude, he who has rejected all the
proposals sent from Catalonia and has not made any proposals of his own
to solve the current political problem. Furthermore, Mas stressed how
the Spanish Government was talking about the “silent majorities” during
the massive pro-independence demonstrations but “was paradoxically
ignoring the absolute majority at the Catalan Parliament that supports
Catalonia’s right to self-determination”. In fact, in
the previous Catalan elections, held in November 2012, 80% of the
newly-elected MPs ran promising a legal self-determination vote

Mas highlighted how Catalan parties had traditionally contributed to
modernise Spain since the 19th century and had been essential in crucial
moments in to order to pass the main reforms during the last 35 years
of democratic regime. However, the times to modernise Spain seem to be
over. Catalans have had and are having a permanent desire to govern
themselves, which has been expressed on many occasions during the last
few centuries. This is as much “a constant of Catalan identity” as was
“the belonging within Spain”. However, now both things do not seem to be
compatible any longer, as Spain is carrying out a recentralisation
process and attacking Catalan powers and language, he said. 

Mas recognised he was skeptical about whether Spain could change, taking into account its
attitude over the last few years, starting with the approval process of
the Catalan Statute of Autonomy (between 2005 and 2010)
. In fact,
Mas recognised he had almost no hope at all. Nonetheless, “as Catalan
President” he will always be willing to sit and talk, and listen to any
proposal from the Spanish Government. However, such a proposal will have
to be voted by Catalans. “The time for closed-door agreements is over”,
he stated, while receiving a round of applause.

“It’s the time for the definitive consultation vote”

Now, the political process that started two years ago with the first
massive pro-independence demonstration "has to be completed", emphasised
Mas. “We need to know with precision whether there is a majority to
build an independent state or not”, he highlighted. “Everybody should be
interested in finding this out”, as the current situation and
uncertainty cannot be extended over time. With their peaceful
demonstrations of the last years, Catalans have earned their right to
hold such a vote. Furthermore, with such festive and civic
minded-mobilisations, Catalans are already contributing to make the
world a better place, said Mas. “It’s the time for the definitive
consultation vote”, he stressed.

“Democracy” rules out any violent repression against Catalans and
“globalization has torn down borders, also the mental ones”. These are
two of the main factors why Catalans can now ask themselves whether or
not they want to split from Spain. However, the greatest reason is that
“the Spanish State has let us down and is continuing to let us down” on
many occasions,stated Mas recalling many events from the last few years.
The Spanish State, including the People’s Party (PP) and the Spanish
Socialist Party (PSOE), has rejected the proposals to increase
Catalonia’s self-government, has been recentralising powers and
attacking Catalan culture and language.

Spain was imposing things on Catalonia

Furthermore, Spain is not treating Catalonia “as an equal” but
“imposes” things and there is a clear “hierarchical” framework, in which
“one orders and the other obeys”. When Catalonia only complains a
little, things are fine, but when Catalonia increases the tone of its
demands, then repression starts. This has been repeated throughout
history and it has also been the case now in times of democracy; hence
the great disappointment by a large part of Catalan society.

On November 9, Catalonia became “an adult country”, it “was not
underage any longer”. It became a “more liberated country”, “more
confident of itself”, emphasised Mas. This “does not mean automatic
emancipation”, but it represents “a change of status”, he noticed. And
now Catalonia is ready to build an independent country, he pointed out.

The Catalan President was also critical of the self-determination
process and highlighted some mistakes that should not be repeated, such
as long-discussions about secondary issues and the fact of mixing the
roles of civil society and public institutions. However, he also praised
the combined efforts of civil society organisations, public  powers and
individual citizens, carried out in a civic-minded and peaceful
attitude. In fact, Mas was asking for a political leadership from the
public and democratic institutions and for moving forward in a brave and
yet cautious way, combining determination and prudence in the months
ahead. The Catalan President warned that the final stages of complex
processes tend to be the hardest ones, but he also added that Catalonia
has proven to be ready for the challenge.

Mas’ formula for the early elections 

At this point, Mas announced the need for early elections as the only
way to continue and take the definitive step in Catalonia’s
self-determination process. Parties supporting independence could run in
several lists, but at least one wide and shared list should obtain an
absolute majority in order to launch the independence negotiations and
start building the new state. Mas listed 7 conditions: a single list
obtaining an absolute majority; formed by politicians but particularly
by independents from the civil society and recognised professionals to
build the new state structures; candidates agreeing to only run once;
being in office for 18 months and afterwards calling constituent
elections and a ratification referendum; that parties would step aside
and would run again in 18 months; that the shared list would be funded
through a newly-created foundation and donations; and, that the public
funds received after the elections would be split between the political
parties in order to guarantee their funding during the next 18 months.

The new Catalan Parliament and Government should launch a negotiation
process with Spanish, European and international organisations for a
maximum time of 18 months. International mediation should not be
excluded in order to reach a “fair” agreement “for all the parties”,
since this process does not go against Spain and a mutually-beneficial
agreement should be reached. In addition, the newly elected Catalan
authorities should start building the new state’s structures, such as a
tax administration, a social security system, etc. Furthermore, they
should launch a citizen participation process to debate a future Catalan
Constitution, which should be drafted by a future new Parliament after
constituent elections are called. Furthermore, the Catalan Government
should guarantee that public services keep running during the
negotiation period. Finally, they should call for such constituent
elections and a final referendum to ratify the whole process.

  • mas_auditorium_forum

The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, arriving at Barcelona's Fòrum Auditorium (by R. Garrido)