Catalan government claims independence referendum could be held before summer
ARA – Oriol Junqueras welcomed the CUP’s support for the budget, which he labelled as “exceptional” for the increase in spending
This Monday Oriol Junqueras proudly boasted of the 2017 budget, which the CUP has decided to support in parliament. The Vice President and Minister of Economy of the Catalan Government called the budget “exceptional” thanks to an increase in spending (of over €1,300 million) and the decision to employ more than 5,000 new teachers this year. He also welcomed the fact that the radical left CUP have finally decided to support the 2017 budget.
The vice president also backed a request made by the spokesman of the CUP’s national secretariat, Quim Arrufat, last Saturday: to bring forward the independence referendum, if Spain applies more judicial pressure. When asked during an interview with Radio RAC1 whether holding a vote before September would be viable, the Minister of Economy declared that “holding the referendum before the summer is a possibility”.
Junqueras also outlined under which circumstances the referendum on independence would be brought forward: he stated that if the Speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell were to be barred from holding office, it might serve to trigger the holding of the referendum. Forcadell is currently being investigated for contempt of court for allowing parliament to debate and vote on the constituent process. However, Junqueras admitted that all the technical details needed to be finalised first.
The vice president, who is also responsible for overseeing the referendum, explained that it would resemble an electoral process as closely as possible in order for it to meet international standards.
Arrufat insists on holding the referendum before the summer
Meanwhile, in an interview with Catalunya Ràdio, Arrufat reiterated the CUP’s intention to hold a legally binding referendum before the summer, provided that Forcadell is not “tried and found guilty. That would be crossing a line”.
Thus, adopting a similar line to Junqueras, the CUP spokesman declared that “if Spain activates and increases its judicial attention” on those responsible for organizing the 9-N [the non-binding referendum held on 9 November 2014], his party would call for the referendum to be brought forward to April or May: “we can’t sit back and wait for Spain to corrode any of our institutions from the inside. We can’t afford to let them put institutions and elected officials on trial”.
Arrimadas: “We are convinced this will end in early elections”
The leader of the opposition in Catalonia, Inés Arrimadas downplayed the significance of the government’s proposal to hold the referendum before the summer. “I don’t believe it matters whether they bring it forward or not: they are trying to have a repeat of 9-N. They can use fancy terminology, but what they have on their hands is a repeat of 2014”, Arrimadas declared from Ciudadanos’ headquarters in Madrid, where she undertook her new role as spokeswoman for Albert Rivera’s national executive. With respect to politics in Catalonia, Arrimadas sees an early election as the only solution: “We are convinced that this will end in elections, one way or another. What we don’t know is if they will take place in the autumn”, she remarked.