Catalan self-determination referendum
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politics and government of
The Catalan self-determination referendum is a projected referendum on the "political future of Catalonia", 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, and called by its signatories Agreement for Freedom.  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." 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 Sunday 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?". The Spanish Government stated shortly thereafter its intention to block the referendum, stating "Such a poll will not be held."
- 1 History
- 1.1 2009–2012
- 1.2 2013
- 1.3 2014
- 2 Vote
- 3 Positions
- 4 Opinion polling
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
Unofficial Catalan independence referendums
In 2009 and 2011 unofficial referendums were held in hundreds of Catalan towns and the independence option won an overwhelming majority of the votes cast, although the participation was very low.
Demonstrations in Barcelona
In 2010 and 2012 two massive 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) and Oriol Junqueras (ERC)
Free Catalan Territories
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 Celebrating an Independence Referendum
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.
The resolution was adopted after the general policy debate. It received 84 favourable votes, 21 against and 25 abstentions. 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.
Declaration of Sovereignty
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". 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.
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.
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.
Catalan Way towards Independence
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. It however allows the part of the right to decide (allows to check the Catalan people's opinion by a legal consultation). The Catalan government declared that this ruling would "have no effect on the process".
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 Plural, PNV, BNG, Amaiur, ERC, Compromís and Geroa Bai), with one abstention (NC-CC).
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 want Catalonia to be a state and, if so, should it be independent. The date was chosen as it would allow for discussions with the Spanish Government in order "to stage the consultation legally".
||The neutrality of this section is disputed. (November 2013)|
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- PPC, a conservative, liberal and Spanish nationalist 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.
- 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.
- C's, a social liberal and Spanish unionist party (9 seats): C's is clearly positioned against both the right to self-determination and to independence.
- 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, and seeks the formation of a Socialist country outside the European Union.
- Spanish Government
- Mariano Rajoy, Prime Minister of Spain: "I want to tell you with all clarity that this consultation will not take place". "Any discussion or debate on this is out of the question."
Position of the parties with parliamentary representation in the Parliament of Spain (sorted by votes):
- People's Party (PP) (186 seats) conservative, liberal and Spanish nationalist 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".
- Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) (110 seats) argue that the referendum is illegal. Disagrees with the Catalan socialists, PSC, and considers the Catalan referendum 'unlawful and disastrous'. Reiterates that the route taken by the Government of Catalonia is a "road to nowhere".
- The Plural Left (11 seats) anti-capitalist and eco-socialist group led by United Left, and containing a number of Left, environmental, Federalist and nationalist parties throughout Spain, defends a federal, multinational, social and Republican government and recognizes the right of the people of Catalonia to decide their political future.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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'".
- 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".
- 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".
- Lithuania — Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius: "Each country must find its own path and has the right to self-determination".
- United Kingdom — Prime Minister David Cameron: "Let the people decide" and "[do not] ignore questions of nationality, independence, identity".
- 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."
- European parties
- Graham Watson, President of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party: "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."
- 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"
- 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".
- David Gardner, International Affairs Editor at the Financial Times: "No one can simply ban a democratic referendum in Catalonia". 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."
Attitudes in Catalonia
Surveys with the referendum questions
Since December 2013, there have been carried out a couple of surveys with the two exact questions of the referendum. The "Yes/Yes"-option means that the voter is in favour of Catalonia becoming an independent state and the "Yes/No"-option indicates that he/she is in favour of Catalonia becoming a state but against independence. Voters who vote in the first question no, are against Catalonia becoming a state.
|Mar 2014||El Periódico de Catalunya||46.1%||4.4%||2.8%||31.9%||14.8%|
|Feb 2014||8 al dia||40.7%||3.8%||3.5%||24.4%||27.5%|
|Dec 2013||La Vanguardia||44.9%||8.4%||-||36.6%||10.1%|
|Dec 2013||El Mundo||35.2%||5.5%||2.3%||39.1%||17.9%|
|Dec 2013||El Periódico de Catalunya||44.1%||5.8%||2.4%||30.4%||17.3%|
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?".
|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%|
|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 2013||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%|
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