Catalan parliament asserts Catalonia’s right to decide its future

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  By a Newsnet reporter

The Parliament of Catalonia has today approved a resolution put forward by the PSC in favour of Catalonia’s right to decide its constitutional future. 

The resolution is very similar to one recently put forward in the Spanish Parliament, which was rejected by the main Spanish “Unionist” parties, the Partido Popular and the PSOE.

The text approved today obliges the Catalan government to initiate a dialogue with the Spanish government, in order to bring about the celebration of a referendum for the citizens of Catalonia to decide on their constitutional future.  

The PSC is the Catalan affiliate of the PSOE, and although opposed to Catalan independence, the party supports the right of the Catalan people to decide their own future.  However recently a rift has emerged between the PSC and their PSOE allies over the question of whether Catalonia should be allowed to hold a referendum on independence.

In today’s vote in Barcelona, the right to decide obtained the backing of a large majority of Catalonia’s parliamentarians, with 104 in favour and just 27 against.  Only the Partido Popular and the anti-independence Ciutadans party opposed the resolution.

Hailing the result, Pere Navarro, leader of the the PSC, said:

“I am a democrat, not a supporter of independence.  When the moment arrives I will campaign for a No.  [However] the Catalans must be able to decide our own future.”

Mr Navarro has demanded that Artur Mas, the President of Catalonia, engage in dialogue with the Spanish government in order to guarantee that Catalans will be able to exercise their right to decide, and “not to finish after a meeting of just two hours”, a reference to the failed negotiations between Madrid and Barcelona over the fiscal arrangements for the autonomous community of Catalonia.   

Marta Rovira, the secretary general of the leftwing independence party ERC, has asked the PSC what they think ought to happen should Madrid not be disposed to negotiate.  The ERC demands that the PSC accepts the will of the Catalan people, and to recognise that the popular right comes before that of “any other power”, a reference to the Spanish state and constitution which deny Catalonia the right to hold an independence referendum.   

Ms Rovira said:  “The referendum cannot be subject to a lack of dialogue by the Spanish government, and as the Spanish government has so far refused [to recognise] the right to decide, we must ask ourselves what we will do after frequent talks if our dialogue is seen as a monologue.”

The Catalan spokesman for the ‘Unionist’ Partido Popular, Santi Rodríguez, condemned today’s vote, saying that the PSC had joined the “crazy separatist course” and has called on the Catalan government to abandon its goal of independence. 

Mr Rodríguez criticised the motion as “dishonest and false”, and insisted that in order to decide the future of Catalonia, all Spaniards must be consulted.  The Partido Popular is a marginal party in Catalonia, and Mr Rodríguez’s appeal is sure to fall on deaf ears.   

The Catalan government will now attempt to open negotiations with Madrid in order to hold a referendum sometime in 2014.  However Madrid has so far refused to countenance any popular vote on the issue, and has condemned the Catalan decision in the stongest terms.  The Spanish government has opened legal proceedings against the Catalan government in order to rule unconstitutional January’s vote in the Catalan parliament which declared the sovereignty of the Catalan people.

It is likely that Madrid will refuse to accept today’s vote, and will continue to insist that Catalonia has no legal right to self-determination.