Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Tuesday, 4 august 2015 | CNA


Catalan President officially calls elections, cautious of potential Spanish Government ban

The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, has signed this Monday evening a decree officially calling Catalan Parliament elections for this coming 27 September. [Foto by R. Moreno (CNA)]

These elections are expected to be transformed into a ‘de facto’ plebiscite on independence from Spain, after the Spanish Government has rejected for the last 3 years any negotiation over organising a mutually-agreed self-determination vote, ignoring the clear democratic mandate from the previous Catalan elections that took place in November 2012. These elections are “very similar to the previous ones in their form, but very different in their substance”, stated Mas after the signing. The decree is ultimately very similar to the previous documents calling Catalan Parliament elections. It has been signed this Monday evening in order not to give Spanish authorities any time to appeal against it before it is published on Tuesday morning in the Catalan Government’s Official Journal, entering into force in that moment. The official electoral campaign will start on the night of 10 September and the newly elected Parliament should hold its first session by mid-October. The election of the President of the Catalan Government should be then scheduled within the next 15 days.

CNA (Catalan News Agency)

On Monday at 21.00, the Catalan President Artur Mas signed the decree that officially dissolves the Catalan Parliament and calls citizens to elect a new one on 27 September. Rumours during the past few weeks suggested that this Monday would be the day selected for the signing of the decree. However, this was only confirmed on Sunday evening and the details of the signing ceremony were only made known at 19.00 on Monday.

The signing of the decree calling the 27 September elections has been surrounded by an unusual level ofdiscretion about its exact content, as there has been significant speculationover whether the Spanish authorities could appeal against the decree and stop the Catalan elections from happening if they were becoming a plebiscite on independence.

In fact, in the past few weeks, and increasingly in the past few days, Spanish authorities have been warning Mas that he can only call “elections to the Autonomous Community Parliament” and have emphasised that there are several legal mechanisms to stop independence from happening, including the suspension of Catalonia’s autonomy or partially withdrawing some of the Catalan Government’s powers. In fact, on Monday morning, the Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, repeated once again that they will only be elections to the Catalan Parliament and severely criticised Mas.

According to a statement made Monday noon by Marta Pascal, the new Spokesperson for Mas’ Liberal party CDC, which is chaired by Mas, the Catalan President “will be very cautious” in order to avoid any appeal from the Spanish authorities. “I don’t know whether [Spanish Prime Minister] Rajoy is tempted or not” to appeal against the decree calling the Catalan elections, she said answering a journalist’s question, but the decree “will be in line with the legal framework”. “Where Catalans have put dialogue and ballot boxes, the Spanish State has answered with fears, threats and judicial complaints”, stressed Pascal.

“In exceptional situations, exceptional decisions are required”

A short but solemn ceremony was organised to frame the signing at the Generalitat Palace in Barcelona and the event was broadcast live, with the Catalan President giving an institutional speech afterwards.

Mas stressed that the decree was “very similar to the previous ones in their form, but very different in their substance”. He also stressed that two years ago he already stated before the Catalan Parliament that, if the Spanish Government, continued to impede Catalans from holding “a legal and mutually-agreed vote”, he would call early elections, transformed into a ‘de facto’ plebiscite. This moment has now come, after the Spanish authorities “have impeded any dialogue and any negotiation” on this issue for the last 3 years, Mas emphasised. According to the Catalan President, “we wanted a consultation vote on our country’s future” and calling Catalan Parliament elections is the only way left, after the Spanish Government’s unilateral blocking. “In exceptional situations, exceptional decisions are required”, he added.

Now, in the framework of the forthcoming elections, Mas asked all parties to present “their proposals for this country’s future”. The Catalan President asked everybody “to respect the results” and stressed his “commitment to implementing the democratic mandate” resulting from the elections. “All proposals, if they respect human rights, are legitimate in democracy”, he highlighted. Finally, Mas underlined that Catalonia is “a nation with a thousand years” of history and that it “has the right to decide on its future”, as “a nation of free people”, stressing also that “plurality and respect for each other’s opinions are virtues” that have to prevail above all in order to build “a future shaped on democracy”.

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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Col·lectiu Emma is a network of Catalans and non-Catalans living in different countries who have made it their job to track and review news reports about Catalonia in the international media. Our goal is to ensure that the world's public opinion gets a fair picture of the country's reality today and in history.

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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia