The Catalan regional assembly approved a resolution on Thursday afternoon to hold a referendum on self-determination, as its general policy debate wound down to a close. The motion was supported by 84 deputies in the 135-seat house, from the ruling center-right nationalist CiU coalition, Iniciativa per Catalunya,Esquerra Unida and Solidaritat, as well as getting a vote apiece from the single-seat Democràcia Catalana party of the former president of FC Barcelona, Joan Laporta, and renegade Socialist deputy Ernest Maragall.
Voting against the resolution were the Popular Party (PP) and Ciutadans, with 21 seats, and the 25 other Socialist deputies. The resolution, which comes after the announcement that regional elections will be brought forward to November 25, reads: “The Catalan parliament affirms the necessity of the Catalan people to decide freely and democratically their collective future and calls on the [regional] government to hold a consultation first and foremost within the next legislature.”
The deputy prime minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, warned Thursday that the government would do everything in its power to prevent a referendum going ahead: “Not only are there legal and judicial instruments to stop it, there is a also a government, this government, that is ready to use them.”
One of these, Santamaría continued, is to appeal a hypothetical referendum at the Constitutional Court, “with the advantage,” she added, that it would be automatically suspended under article 161.2 of the Constitution.
The leader of the Catalan PP, Alicia Sánchez-Camacho, said that Mas should respect the law. “Laws are there to be applied,” she said. “We all know this. What we ask of Mas is that he bear in mind that he is the principle person responsible for upholding the law, and that he does not take Catalonia to the limits of legality.”
The regional premier of Extremadura, José Antonio Monago, said that any referendum on the future of Catalonia should be carried out on a national scale. “Catalonia is very important to Spain,” noted Monago, pointing to the 18 percent of national GDP that comes from the region. “The rest of Spain should have something to say. We are taxpayers.”
On Wednesday, in a heated debate in Congress, Catalonia’s historical claim to sovereignty was placed under a microscope. Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya spokesman Alfred Bosch asked the government for “the restitution of Catalonia’s sovereignty” by means of the repeal of the Nueva Planta decrees signed in 1715 by Felipe V after the Spanish War of Succession, which brought the lands owned by the Crown of Aragon — among which was Catalonia — under the rule of Castille. Until then, Bosch stated, “Catalonia had full international subjectivity and exercised its sovereignty fully.”
Congressional Constitutional Commission spokesman, Pedro Gómez de la Serna, retorted: “Be honest, do not lie to people: Catalonia was never sovereign. You have created a false account. You have deceived yourselves, you have deceived Catalans. Catalonia was never sovereign and it is not now; it is not subject to international law. Catalonia never existed as a nation — a concept that is no longer valid — nor as a state. In 1700 Catalonia was a principality, a territory with its own institutions but one integrated into the crown of Aragon and, in consequence, into Spain.”
The Popular Party deputy raised his tone as he warned of dire consequences should Catalonia seek secession from Spain: “With your roadmap you are leading Catalans to bankruptcy and you will bring about the collapse of the welfare state. The ratings agencies have taken note and reduced your bonds to junk status.”
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