Rajoy refuses to listen to Catalan referendum demands


  By a Newsnet reporter

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has remained unmoved by Wednesday’s demonstration in Catalonia when over 1.6 million formed a human chain the length of the country to demand independence.

In a letter to Artur Mas, President of the Catalan government, Mr Rajoy restated the Spanish government’s position that Catalonia must abandon its demand for a referendum on independence, which the Spanish government insists is contrary to the Spanish constitution.

The Spanish Prime Minister promised “dialogue – without an expiry date” with the Catalan government on questions “of general interest to Spaniards”, but refused to negotiate on the referendum.

Writing that “together we all win and apart we all lose,” the Spanish PM repeated previous calls from his government that Catalonia abandon its ambitions to independence, adding: “The links that maintain us united cannot be untied without emotional, economic, political and social costs.”

Mr Rajoy then called upon Mr Mas and the Catalan Parliament to “work to strengthen those links, and avoid confrontations”.

The Spanish government’s continuing refusal to allow an independence referendum has not been well received in Catalonia. 

The co-leader of the Catalan Green party, Joan Herrera, said that Mr Rajoy’s letter showed only that “he has understood nothing”.  Speaking to Europa Press, Mr Herrera said that the Spanish Government could not see that Catalan disaffection was aggravated by “the lack of an intelligent and democratic response” from Madrid. 

Mr Herrera added that Mr Rajoy had not altered his position from last year, even after last weeks’ massive public participation in the Via Catalana, and that the actions of the Partido Popular (the party of Mr Rajoy) demonstrated that they sought to “silence the majority”.

Oriol Junqueras, leader of the ERC (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya), the junior partners in the pro-sovereignty coalition government in Barcelona, said that Mr Rajoys remarks demonstrated that Catalonia must seek its own path. 

Mr Junqueras said:

“If the Spanish Government ignores the clamour for the vote, if it takes shelter in false legal limitations in order to postpone it, we will have to find our own path.”

The ERC has previously stated that it would like the Catalan referendum to be held on either the 7th or the 14th of September 2014 – just days before Scotland’s independence referendum. 

Mr Rajoy’s continuing refusal to consider a Catalan referendum is likely to  strengthen the party’s demand to hold the referendum in 2014, irrespective of what Madrid says.

Faced with the Spanish government’s intransigence on the referendum issue, Catalan President Artur Mas stated on Saturday that he would seek a joint response to Mr Rajoy’s letter from other parties in the Catalan Parliament on Wednesday, during that day’s debate on the “General Policy of the Parliament”.