Catalan self-determination referendum, 2014

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The Catalan self-determination referendum is a projected referendum on the "political future of Catalonia",[1] that is included in the governance agreement ratified by Artur Mas from Convergence and Union (CiU) and Oriol Junqueras from Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) on 18 December 2012,[2][3][4][5] and called by its signatories Agreement for Freedom. [2][6][7] The text indicates that the date of the referendum will be agreed between the two parties, both of which commit to attempting to hold it in 2014 "except if the socio-economic and political context made a postponement necessary."[1][8] As part of the agreement Artur Mas was voted in as President of the Generalitat of Catalonia for a second term.

On 12 December 2013, the Government of Catalonia announced that the date for the referendum on independence will be set for 9 November 2014 and that it will contain a question with two sections: "Do you want Catalonia to become a State?" and "In case of an affirmative response, do you want this State to be independent?".[9][10] The Spanish Government stated shortly thereafter its intention to block the referendum, stating "Such a poll will not be held."[11][12]



Unofficial Catalan independence referendums[edit]

In 2009 and 2011 unofficial referendums took place in hundreds of Catalan towns as one of the many actions included in the independentist-wing-parties' platforms; in the referendums the pro-independence option won an overwhelming majority of the votes cast, although the participation rate was very low.

Demonstrations in Barcelona[edit]

In 2010 and 2012 two demonstrations took place in Barcelona. The first one was on 10 July 2010. It featured a Catalan regionalist ideological leadership. The second one on 11 September 2012 was openly in favor of Catalan independence and had as a slogan "Catalonia, next state in Europe". As a consequence of this second demonstration, the Rt. Hon. Artur Mas, President of the Generalitat of Catalonia at that time, called a snap election, and the "Agreement for Freedom" was negotiated between Artur Mas (CiU "Conservativel local party) and Oriol Junqueras (ERC, Republican and socialistic-style left party).

Free Catalan Territories[edit]

Location of Catalonia in Spain (green) and Europe.

Also, during 2012, dozens of Catalan towns declared themselves Free Catalan Territory stating that "the Spanish legislation and regulations have effect only in Spain, so this town will wait for new legislation and regulation from the Catalan Government and the Parliament of Catalonia."

Resolution of the Catalan Parliament for Holding an Independence Referendum[edit]

The Catalan independence referendum is planned to take place during the tenth legislature of the Parliament of Catalonia. According to a resolution adopted by the Parliament of Catalonia on 27 September 2012:

The Parliament of Catalonia confirms the need for the people of Catalonia to be able to freely and democratically determine their collective future and urges the government to hold a referendum during the following legislature.[15]

The resolution was adopted after the general policy debate. It received 84 favourable votes, 21 against and 25 abstentions.[16] The President of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Artur Mas, declared in a speech to Parliament that it was time for the people of Catalonia to exercise the right of self-determination.[17]


Declaration of Sovereignty[edit]

Results of the votes for the "Declaration of sovereignty" at the Catalan Parliament, on 23 January 2013

On 23 January 2013 the Parliament of Catalonia adopted by 85 favourable votes, 41 against, and 2 abstentions the "Declaration of Sovereignty and of the Right to Decide of the Catalan People".[18][19][20] It states that "The people of Catalonia have – by reason of democratic legitimacy – the character of a sovereign political and legal entity." Five Socialist MPs did not vote. It is based on the following principles: sovereignty, democratic legitimacy, transparency, dialogue, social cohesion, Europeanism, legality, role of the Catalan Parliament and participation.[21][22]

In accordance with the democratically expressed will of the majority of the Catalan public, the Parliament of Catalonia initiates a process to bring to promote the right of the citizens of Catalonia to collectively decide their political future.[21]

The political parties Convergence and Union (CiU) (50 yes), Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) (21 yes) and Initiative for Catalonia Greens-United and Alternative Left (ICV-EUiA) (13 yes) totally supported the statement of sovereignty. On the other hand, the People's Party of Catalonia (PPC) (19 no) and Citizens – Party of the Citizenry (C's) (9 no) totally opposed the proposal. 15 members of the Socialists' Party of Catalonia (PSC) voted against; 5 did not vote despite being present in the Chamber, thus disobeying the orders of the party whips to vote against the proposal. Finally, the Popular Unity Candidature (CUP) gave a "critical yes", with 1 vote in favour and 2 abstentions.[22]

On 8 May 2013 this purely political declaration was provisionally suspended by the Constitutional Court of Spain.[23][24]

Catalan Way towards Independence[edit]

Main article: Catalan Way


On 25 March 2014, the Spanish Constitutional Court finally ruled that the sovereignty part of the "Declaration of Sovereignty and of the Right to Decide of the Catalan People" was "unconstitutional and null", and therefore did not allow a self-determination referendum to be held in Catalonia.[25] It however allows the part of the right to decide (allows to check the Catalan people's opinion by a legal consultation).[citation needed] The Catalan government declared that this ruling would "have no effect on the process".[26]

On 8 April 2014, the Spanish Congress rejected the Catalan parliament's request to give it the power to organize the self-determination referendum. The bill was voted down 299 (PP, PSOE, UPyD, UPN and Foro Asturias) to 47 (CiU, Izquierda Unida, PNV, BNG, Amaiur, ERC, Compromís and Geroa Bai), with one abstention (NC-CC).[27][28]


On 12 December 2013, Catalan President Artur Mas announced that a deal between Catalan parties had set the date and wording of a referendum. The date would be 9 November 2014 and would ask Catalan voters this question: "Do you want Catalonia to become a State?" and "In case of an affirmative response, do you want this State to be independent?".[9][10] The date was chosen as it would allow for discussions with the Spanish Government in order "to stage the consultation legally".

Mariano Rajoy, Spanish Prime Minister, said that the referendum would be considered illegal and that "any discussion or debate on this is out of the question".[11][29]



Position of the parties with parliamentary representation in Catalonia (sorted by votes):

  • CiU, liberal and Catalan nationalist coalition (CDC have 37 seats and UDC have 13): the goal to achieve a sovereign state in the European framework was included in their election manifesto, Catalunya 2020. This is an aim shared by a majority within the party and by the party president Artur Mas and some other important leaders like Oriol Pujol, but some leaders of UDC such as Josep Antoni Duran Lleida have had an ambiguous position and have defended a confederal model.[30][31]
  • ERC, social and pro Catalan independence party (21 seats): ERC clearly supports Catalonia having its own State within the European Union framework, and for that reason they have signed the pact with CiU since 2012.[32][33]
  • PSC, socialist party federated with the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (20 seats): in the words of their leader, the PSC is against independence, but favors the holding of a legal referendum agreed with the Spanish government. This is why it decided to abstain in all parliamentary votes dealing with the right to decide. Despite that, some notable PSC leaders (like Montserrat Tura and Joaquim Nadal) have said they will vote for independence.[34]
  • PPC, the Catalan affiliate of the Spanish People's Party (19 seats): the PP insists that the referendum is illegal, they defend the Spanish Constitutional framework and are against secession. They also claim that the independence of Catalonia would give rise to a number of serious social and economic problems, such as expulsion from the Eurozone.[35]
  • ICV-EUiA ecosocialist and Catalan nationalist coalition (ICV hold 10 seats and EUiA hold 3): ICV, an eco-socialist group, defends the right to self-determination, but party leaders have never responded as to how they would vote in a referendum and say they are a union of federalists and separatists.[36]
  • C's, a party that defends laicism, Catalan-Spanish bilingualism and the Spanish Constitution,[37][38] (9 seats): C's is clearly positioned against the self-determination referendum unless it is previously approved by the Spanish parliament.[39]
  • CUP, anticapitalist, socialist and pro-independence party (3 seats): the CUP is in favour of the independence of Catalonia, as part of the emancipation of all the "Catalan Countries" (territories where Catalan is spoken), and seeks the formation of a socialist country outside the European Union.[40][41]


Spanish Government

The Spanish Government "will not allow" and "will not negotiate" on Catalonia’s self-determination vote.[11][42]


Position of the parties with parliamentary representation in the Parliament of Spain (sorted by seats):

  • People's Party (PP) (186 seats) conservative and liberal, argue that the referendum is illegal. The Spanish deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria says Catalonia cannot hold an independence referendum without first consulting the rest of the country. She also said the call for a referendum "of this nature" requires prior constitutional procedures, which consist of "authorization by the State". She also noted that it would be a matter that would "affect the whole Spanish people, that is, the whole electoral roll and thus each and every Spanish citizen must be consulted, because it is up to all of us to determine the territorial organization".[42]
  • Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) (110 seats) argue that the referendum is illegal. It considers the Catalan referendum 'unlawful and disastrous'. Reiterates that the route taken by the Government of Catalonia is a "road to nowhere".[44][45]
  • Amaiur (7 seats), Basque separatist party, actively supports the Catalan right to hold a self-determination and requests a similar right for the Spanish Basque Country.[47]
  • Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD) (5 seats) argue that the referendum is illegal and believes that the Spanish government should use all legal means to prevent the referendum, and partially blames PP and PSOE for this situation.[48]
  • Basque Nationalist Party (5 seats) defends the right of the people of Catalonia to decide their political future and the Catalan independence referendum.[49]
  • Foro Asturias (1 seat) opposes the Catalan referendum of self-determination because "national sovereignty resides in the Spanish people".[53]
Regional Governments

The Basque Government supports the Catalan agreement to hold the referendum and calls on the Spanish government to recognize the referendum and let it celebrate.[54]

International reaction[edit]

  •  United Nations — In April 2013, UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon stated in a press conference that "All the issues between the countries and among the countries should be resolved through peaceful means, through dialogue, respecting the genuine aspirations of the people concerned."[55]
  •  European Union — A spokesperson of the European Commission declared that if Catalonia seceded from Spain it would automatically leave the European Union: "An independent state, because of its independence, would become a third country vis a vis the EU and as of the day of the independence the EU treaties will no longer apply'".[56]
  •  NATO — A spokesperson for NATO said that an independent country would not automatically be part of the organisation, saying "for any nation to be incorporated into the alliance the consensus of all the NATO allies will be necessary".[57]
  •  Germany — Chancellor Angela Merkel: "We're in favour of the territorial integrity of all states but that's completely different to regions becoming independent and organising themselves." "So I share the opinion of the Spanish government, and other than that I won't get involved in domestic Spanish matters".[58]
  •  Latvia — Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis: "If there is a clear will of the people and a clear demand for a referendum, it is absolutely worth it to pay attention and look at options on how to tackle it".[59]
  •  Lithuania — Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius: "Each country must find its own path and has the right to self-determination".[60]
  •  France — Prime Minister Manuel Valls (born in Catalonia), announced in January 2014 that he does not agree with "the process that is underway in Catalonia" and reaffirmed that he is "anxious" about the referendum.[61]
  •  United Kingdom — Prime Minister David Cameron: "I don't believe that, in the end, [it's right to] try to ignore these questions of nationality, independence, identity... I think it’s right to make your arguments, take them on and then you let the people decide. But that's the way I want to do things in the United Kingdom. I would never presume to tell people in Spain how to meet these challenges themselves; it's a matter for the Spanish Government and the Spanish Prime Minister."[62]
  •  United States — Caitlin Hayden, the Deputy National Security Council Spokesperson and Assistant Press Secretary, United States Official White House Response (as a response to a petition in the web of White House supported by 30,000 signatures): "The United States recognizes the unique culture and traditions of the Catalan region, but considers the status of Catalonia to be an internal Spanish matter. We are confident that the Government and the people of Spain will resolve this issue in accordance with their laws and Constitution."[63]
European parties
  • Graham Watson, President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE): "The people of Catalonia have the right to choose their own future [...] I believe in the democracy. Catalans should be able to choose. That's what democracy is about."[64]
  • The European Free Alliance stated: "We believe that freedom, democracy and the right to decide on your own future are core values of Europe. We would welcome Catalonia and a Catalan Republic to be a new state within Europe, if the people so decide"[64]
  • Ska Keller, The Greens–European Free Alliance: "The Greens defend radical democracy and in Catalonia there is a citizen demand in favour of a [self-determination] referendum. For this reason I want to make the personal commitment that, if I am elected Commission President, I will support Catalonia in allowing a consultation vote on its political future and its relationship with Spain".[65]
  • David Gardner, International Affairs Editor at the Financial Times: "No one can simply ban a democratic referendum in Catalonia".[66][67] On 15 December 2013 the Financial Times published an editorial saying that "This is a political problem that requires a negotiated solution – more federalism within Spain’s crying need for institutional renewal." It exhorted "politicians from both sides (...) to prevent what is at root a political issue becoming a problem that threatens the very state."[68]

Opinion polling[edit]

Attitudes in Catalonia[edit]

Surveys with the referendum questions[edit]

Since December 2013, several surveys have been carried out on the two stated questions of the referendum. The "Yes/Yes"-option indicates the percentage of voters in favour of Catalonia becoming an independent state and the "Yes/No"-option indicates the percentage in favour of Catalonia becoming a state but against independence. Voters who vote in the first question no, are against Catalonia becoming a state.

Polling organisation Yes/Yes Yes/No Yes/Undecided No Undecided/Abstention
Sep 2014 El Mundo 34.6% 4.5% 2.3% 39.5% 19.2%
Mar 2014 El Periódico de Catalunya 46.1% 4.4% 2.8% 31.9% 14.8%
5 Feb 2014 8 al dia 40.7% 3.8% 3.5% 24.4% 27.5%
16-19 Dec 2013 La Vanguardia 44.9% 8.4% - 36.6% 10.1%
12-13 Dec 2013 El Mundo 35.2% 5.5% 2.3% 39.1% 17.9%
12-13 Dec 2013 El Periódico de Catalunya 44.1% 5.8% 2.4% 30.4% 17.3%

Short-term polling[edit]

Polling organisation Support Reject Undecided Lead
Sep 2013 Cadena SER 52.3% 24.1% 23.6% 28.2%
Jun 2013 Centre d'Estudis d'Opinió 55.6% 23.4% 21% 32.2%
May 2013 El Periódico de Catalunya 57.8% 36% 6.2% 21.8%
Feb 2013 Centre d'Estudis d'Opinió 54.7% 20.7% 24.6% 34%
Sep 2012 Telecinco (GESOP) 50.9% 18.6% 30.5% 32.3%
Jul 2012 Diari Ara 50.4% 23.8% 25.8% 26.6%
Jun 2012 Centre d'Estudis d'Opinió 51.1% 21.1% 27.8% 30%
Mar 2012 Centre d'Estudis d'Opinió[dead link] 44.6% 24.7% 30.7% 19.9%
Jan 2012 El Periódico de Catalunya 53.6% 32% 14.4% 21.6%

Long-term surveys[edit]

Trends in support for Catalan independence can be observed by comparing more recent surveys with that carried out by Spain's Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas in 1996, which asked "Personally, would you support or reject Catalonia becoming independent?".

Polling organisation Support Reject Undecided Lead
2011 Institut de Ciències Polítiques i Socials 41.4% 22.9% 35.7% 18.5%
1996 Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas 33.6% 53.5% 13.1% 19.9%

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ a b "CIU and ERC came to an agreement in Catalonia: Referendum in 2014" (in Catalan). VilaWeb. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  3. ^ Separatist Catalan Parties Announce Alliance The New York Times, 18 December 2012
  4. ^ Agreement in Catalonia on date of independence referendum Euronews, 19 December 2012
  5. ^ Catalonia referendum set for 2014 Financial Times, 19 December 2012
  6. ^ "Mas and Junqueras come to an agreement on helding the independence referendum on 2014" (in Catalan). Ara. 18 December 2012. 
  7. ^ "Artur Mas and Oriol Jonqueras sign the "Agreement for the Freedom"" (in Catalan). The Singular Digital. 19 December 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  8. ^ Noguer, Miquel; Roger, Maiol (18 December 2012). "CiU y ERC pactan la consulta de autodeterminación para 2014". El País. 
  9. ^ a b Catalan President Mas: "The country's good sense has made it possible to come to a consensus and agree on an inclusive, clear question, which enjoys broad support", Government of Catalonia.
  10. ^ a b Political parties announce date for vote on Catalonia independence, CNN.
  11. ^ a b c Spain to block Catalonia independence referendum, BBC World.
  12. ^ Spain Rejects Call for Catalonia Independence Vote, TIME.
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  14. ^ "1.5 million take to streets of Barcelona in support of Independence". The Daily Telegraph. 11 September 2012. 
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  16. ^ "Parliament heads for national emancipation voting for a query" (in Catalan). Ara. 27 September 2012. 
  17. ^ "It is time for the people Catalonia to exercise their right to self-determination" (in Catalan). Ara. 25 September 2012. 
  18. ^ "El Parlament acorda iniciar el procés per fer efectiu el dret de decidir, amb 85 vots a favor, 41 en contra i 2 abstencions" (in Catalan). Parliament Catalonia. Retrieved 2013-01-23. 
  19. ^ "Declaration of sovereignty and of the right to decide of the Catalan nation". Vilaweb. Retrieved 2013-01-28. 
  20. ^ "Catalan parliament declaration pushes self-determination". cnn. Retrieved 2013-01-23. 
  21. ^ a b Marco (22 January 2013). "The declaration of sovereignty starts off in Parliament" (in Catalan). Ara. 
  22. ^ a b "Catalonia, a sovereign state" (in Catalan). Vilaweb. 23 January 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
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  25. ^ Parry, Roland Lloyd (25 March 2014). "Catalonia independence vote ruled unconstitutional". Yahoo News. Retrieved 13 April 2014. 
  26. ^ Spain Says Catalonia Can’t Vote for Independence, But Catalans Will Go Ahead Anyway, TIME, 26 March 2014, Per Liljas
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  31. ^ "Duran defends a confederal model: "A Catalonia linked to Spain with the rights of an independent state"". La Vanguardia (in Spanish). 16 January 2013. 
  32. ^ "ERC believes that the multinationals with headquarters in Catalonia would be an argument for the EU to accept the State". The Newspaper of Catalunya. 7 December 2012. 
  33. ^ "Catalan Parliament election 2012 program". 
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  43. ^ a b "The Spanish Government "will not allow" and "will not negotiate" on Catalonia’s self-determination vote". Catalan News Agency. 12 December 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  44. ^ The PSOE, disagrees with the PSC. and believes the Catalan referendum 'unlawful and disastrous' (Spanish)
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  48. ^ Rosa Díez: «El Gobierno debe utilizar todos los medios legales para evitar el referéndum» ABC
  49. ^ El PNV apoyará delegar la competencia del referéndum a Cataluña (Spanish) EITB
  50. ^ BNG defenderá que Cataluña no plantea "un juego de cromos", sino una petición civilizada, legal y democrática (Spanish) Europa Press
  51. ^ Compromís votarà a favor de la proposta del Parlament de Catalunya al congrés espanyol (Catalan) Vilaweb
  52. ^ Baldoví, de Compromís, i Sixto, d'Esquerra Unida, els dos diputats valencians que han dit 'sí' a la consulta (Catalan)
  53. ^ Sostres: “La soberanía reside en el pueblo español y es indivisible. El futuro de Cataluña nos afecta a todos”
  54. ^ El Gobierno vasco respalda el acuerdo soberanista (Spanish) El Periódico
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  62. ^
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  64. ^ a b 'Donaríem la benvinguda a una república catalana', VilaWeb
  65. ^ European Greens' Leader, Ska Keller, supports Catalonia's self-determination, Catalan News Agency
  66. ^ "No one" can simply ban a referendum on Catalan independence, says FT International Affairs Editor[dead link], Catalan News Agency.
  67. ^ L'editor internacional del 'Financial Times': "Ningú pot prohibir una consulta", Ara.
  68. ^ "Spain's next crisis". Financial Times. 15 December 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]