Catalan Parliament to vote on a response to Madrid takeover
CATALAN NEWS AGENCY – The session will continue into Friday with a declaration of independence back on the table
The Catalan Parliament is to decide on a declaration of independence on Friday while the Spanish Senate votes to strip the Catalan executive of self-rule powers. After an intense day, Catalan president Carles Pugidemont ruled out calling a snap election on Thursday, which would have been read as a sign of de-escalation, after he unsuccessfully tried to get “guarantees” from Madrid that early elections would stop the suspension of Catalonia’s self-government. Puigdemont said that it is now up to the chamber majority to decide, thus putting a declaration of independence again on the table.
Tensions were high at the Catalan Parliament on Thursday when the plenary finally took place. The floor ultimately opened for debate at 6pm, following the session being rescheduled several times since being called.
When MPs finally spoke, they often addressed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who himself did not speak in the plenary, directly. While no concrete steps were taken, the plenary session is to continue into Friday October 27.
Inés Arrimadas, leader of unionist Ciutadans party (C’s) in Catalonia, stated that Puigdemont is still “in time” to call elections in Catalonia. Arrimadas warned that regardless of what Puigdemont chooses to do, “the ballot boxes will come,” referring to the looming implementation of Article 155 by the Spanish government. Arrimadas also stated that she doesn’t think Catalonia will be independent, but it will, however, be “less rich, less open, less cohesive and less safe.” The head of Ciutadans in Catalonia ended her address to the Catalan president by stating that “returning to legality and calling elections in Catalonia was a dignified,” “democratic” and “clean way out.” “There are still a few hours to take it,” she said, “but we have few hopes that you will reconsider.”
Catalan Socialist Party
Miquel Iceta, head of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), offered to “stand beside” Carles Puigdemont if he were to ultimately speak in the Spanish Senate. Indeed, Puigdemont turned down an offer to speak in the Spanish Senate, opting instead to attend the Catalan Parliament. Iceta insisted on the Catalan president’s presence in Madrid, stating that it’s not too late to “rectify” the situation through “sincere” dialogue. This is one of two ways that the Catalan socialist leader sees as a possible way out from the activation of Article 155. The other, he stated, was calling snap elections. While Iceta admitted that there is “no guarantee” that doing so would halt seizing Catalonia’s self-rule, he pledged the support of the socialists were this to take place.
Catalunya Sí que es Pot
Leader of the Catalonia Yes We Can coalition (Catalunya Sí que es Pot or CSQP) Lluís Rabell stated that “institutions do not belong to any party.” The CSQP itself has positioned itself as pro-referendum but divided on a declaration of independence. He further postured that “no constitutional reform” could come of the application of Article 155, which in his view is “arbitrary.” Rabell reflected that “self-government was a democratic conquest of our people,” warning though that currently “it’s at risk.” Rabell also warned that those who “do not know how to defend acquired rights will never achieve new ones.
Leader of left-wing Podemos in Catalonia, Albano Dante Fachin, warned the Spanish government and those that would impose Article 155 on Catalonia that the reality would not change “by imposition or blows.” “Do you really think,” the head of Podem asked, “that by applying a (constitutional) article the reality outside this Parliament will disappear?”
The leader of Spain’s ruling right-wing People’s Party in Catalonia (PPC), Xavier García Albiol, addressed Carles Puigdemont by claiming that the Catalan president would be judged not by history, but instead “a court of law.” Indeed, the PPC leader stated that “history has already sentenced” Puigdemont as “guilty for an irresponsibility never seen before in Catalan politics and democracy .” García Albiol further admitted that applying Article 155 would not be easy but instead “complicated,” because “it will create uncertainty and insecurity.” “We will probably enter an unknown dimension,” he predicted. However, Albiol reiterated that, in his view, the activation of Article 155 would be preferable to the independence process.
Anna Gabriel, spokesperson of the far left pro-independence CUP party, warned Carles Puigdemont and the MPs and the hemicycle that “a tsunami of dismissals, interventions, suppression, and who knows what else” was approaching. Gabriel further urged “above all, whatever happens,” that those who engaged in the debate to “make intelligence thrive.” CUP MP Albert Botran urged Carles Puigdemont to “choose his travel companions wisely.” Botran also asked the Catalan president to “tell the truth and act firmly.” He added that only by assuming the mandate of the October 1 referendum will Puigdemont be able to “look the people in the eye.” Previously, CUP MP Benet Salellas also spoke, criticizing the role of the PSC, Cs and PP parties in the potential application of Article 155. Salellas had asserted that with or without the application of the legislation, the CUP will continue “walking towards the Catalan Republic.”
Together for Yes Coalition
The president of the pro-independence Together for Yes (Junts pel Sí or JxSí) coalition, Lluís Corominas, closed the Parliaments debate by explaining that the coalition will push for a resolution to “fulfill the mandate” of the October 1 referendum. In addition, he also anticipated that he will also put the “rejection of the application of Article 155” to vote, inasmuch as it is an “aggression” towards the people of Catalonia. For this, Corominas requested the support of other groups in order for the proposal to be “transversal” and for it to provoke the “reflection of all the deputies who love the Catalan institutions.”