Catalan President signs decree calling self-determination consultation vote on 9 November
CATALAN NEWS AGENCY – This article includes the entire speech by Artur Mas after the signature
The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, has formally called a consultation vote on the 9th of November in order “to know the [citizen] opinion” about “Catalonia’s political future” to launch “the legal, political and institutional initiative” with the aim of negotiating the necessary changes at Spanish level. The Spanish Government has immediately replied that such a vote “will not take place” and that it will take it to the Constitutional Court, as it had already announced. The Spanish Executive assumes the Court will suspend the decree and the law on which it is based, and that these actions will stop November’s vote from happening. The decree has been signed on Saturday morning, in an exceptional ceremony held in Barcelona where Mas was surrounded by all the Catalan Ministers and most of the political leaders supporting November’s vote.
The signature took place just after the Law on Consultation Votes had entered into force, which was approved by the Catalan Parliament with an 80% support a week ago. In addition, 92% of Catalonia’s municipalities have approved motions backing November’s vote. Mas insisted on the democratic and clear mandate from the last Catalan elections – held in November 2012 – to organise a self-determination vote to decide Catalonia’s political future. Furthermore, “as all the other nations in the world, Catalonia has the right to decide its own future”, he stressed. The Catalan President also emphasised that “Catalans want to be heard”, mentioning the massive pro-independence and peaceful demonstrations of the last 3 years. He also sent a message to the international community and the rest of Spain: “democracy is the most civilised way of solving the difficulties between nations”, praising the countries that have allowed similar votes to happen. Mas underlined the four principles guiding Catalonia’s self-determination process and the consultation vote call: broad social majorities, political consensus, constant search for dialogue and respect for legal frameworks. The decree has entered into force this morning and, immediately after, the Catalan Government has already signed further regulations and protocols for holding the consultation vote in 6 weeks time. In addition, the instutional campaign to inform about the vote has also been launched.
After several days waiting for the decree calling the 9th of November’s consultation vote, the document has been formally signed and has entered into force this morning. With this non-binding consultation vote, the Catalan Government aims to gather the opinion of those living in Catalonia about the country’s political future and its relationship with Spain with the objective “to exercise the legal, political and institutional initiative” at Spanish level for making the necessary changes in accordance with the consultation vote’s results. The Catalan Government is using its legal prerogatives to consult the citizenry about Catalonia’s political future. Once their opinion will be known, the Catalan institutions will use their legal powers, explicitly recognised by the Spanish Constitution, to launch a negotiation process with the Spanish authorities to totally review Catalonia’s relation with the rest of Spain, in line with the opinion explicitly expressed by the majority of the people living in Catalonia.
A self-determination process based on four guiding principles, stated Mas
The Catalan President has emphasised the respect for the legal framework as a guiding principle of the current self-determination process. The three other principles are listening to broad social majorities, moving forward with a broad political consensus and having a constant and open attitude to talk.
In fact, a two-third majority of the Catalan Parliament reached an agreement on the 12th of December, 2013 to organise such a vote on the 9th of November, 2014, after the Spanish Government rejected to talk about the democratic mandate resulting from the last Catalan Parliament elections, held in November 2012. Those elections were called earlier, after 1.5 million Catalans peacefully demonstrated in Barcelona to demand independence from Spain. They registered the highest turnout in decades and self-determination was the central issue, with parties clearly supporting or rejecting this idea. Back then, 80% of the elected MPs explicitly supported a legal self-determination vote during the electoral campaign. After the elections were held, the Catalan President emphasised: “We have a clear democratic mandate”.
“We are open to negotiate” until “the very last minute”, but “we will not fall into the trap of the do-nothing attitude” imposed by the Spanish Government in order to avoid any change, stated Mas. “Catalonia wants to speak up, wants to vote”, he stressed. “Voting should not scare anyone”, Mas emphasised. Catalonia is a nation and “as all the other nations in the world, Catalonia has the right to decide its own future”, stressed the 129th President of the Catalan Government. In fact, Mas pointed out that the Catalan Government – called Generalitat – was founded in the 14th century and that, in those 700 years, “only external impositions have suspended our self-government”.
The Spanish Government has already activated its veto actions
The Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, addressed the press to announce the measures to be adopted to stop the vote from happening. Sáenz de Santamaría referred to the non-binding consultation vote as a “self-determination referendum”, insisting that it was a de facto referendum on Spain’s sovereignty. “There is nothing above the sovereign will of the Spanish people” and “all the Spaniards are those who have to decide on what is Spain and how it should be organised”, she stated. Furthermore, she added that “no government is above the sovereign will of Spaniards as a whole”. In addition, Spanish Deputy PM highlighted that “without law there is no democracy”. “The Government of the Nation has the obligation to protect the law and the right of all Spaniards”, she concluded in order to justify the appeals to the Constitutional Court to stop Catalonia’s consultation vote. According to her, such a vote “breaks and splits” Catalan society, “keeping them away from Europe and from the sense of the [current] times”.
Sáenz de Santamaría announced that the Spanish Government has already asked for a report to the Council of State, its main advisory body, which is a mandatory but non-binding legal step before filing a constitutional appeal. The report is expected within 48 hours. Then, the Spanish Government will hold an exceptional Cabinet meeting to approve the two appeals against the Catalan Law on Consultation Votes and the decree signed this Saturday. Sáenz de Santamaría announced in early September that the two appeals had already been prepared, weeks before the law’s and the decree’s approval and before knowing their definitive and exact wording. The appeals will be filed to the Constitutional Court and then, in its plenary session, this institution will decide whether it accepts the Spanish Government’s appeals or not. The next plenary session is scheduled on the 7th of October, but an early one could take place next week, although it would contribute to underline the Court’s lack of independence from the Spanish Government.
The Catalan President’s entire speech
The President of the Catalan Government gave an institutional speech after having signed the decree. The speech was mostly in Catalan, although a part was also in Spanish in order to sent a message to all the Spanish citizens, insisting that Catalonia’s self-determination process does not go against anyone but that it aims to build a better future and to keep the manifold fraternity bonds with Spaniards. In addition, a last part of the speech was in English, in order to send a direct message to the international community and, particularly, to the European Union institutions and Member State governments.
“I have just signed the executive decree that will make it possible for all Catalans to voice their opinions on the political future we want for our country on November 9th.
It has taken the mass mobilization of citizens and many months of work to arrive at this day, a day which we will remember forever. It was November 2012 when the people of Catalonia, through their votes in an election with strong participation, chose a parliamentary majority in favor of their right to decide Catalonia’s political future for themselves – a right we are now preparing to exercise.
Since then, four principles have guided this process: broad social majorities, political consensus, constant search for dialogue and respect for legal frameworks.
– Social majorities, which are the fruit of the massive popular demonstrations [occurring over the past several years] and, above all, of the free and democratic expression of citizens at the ballot box. Social majorities which through their votes elected a Parliament with a wide political majority in favor of the right to decide and to find a political solution for our future, a solution upon which all Catalans must be consulted. This is the way in which democracies express themselves and political projects are born: through voting. It is the responsibility of democrats to not deny reality, to listen to the voice of the citizenry expressed at the ballot box and to carry through with electoral commitments, which are the mandates of that citizenry that we must always seek to fulfill.
– Political consensus which recognizes Catalonia as a nation, as a source of sovereignty that deserves to be consulted on its own future. Political unity to come to an agreement on a date, a question and the legal frameworks to make the consultation possible. Political unity within ideological diversity to build, to generate consensus. Political unity which contrasts with those who are brought together only by the will to deny, to say ‘no’ to everything, to present neither a project nor an alternative. To not do anything, and to not let anything be done. Or even to do everything possible to not let anything be done.
– Constant search for dialogue in order to speak and negotiate. No one will be able to deny that we have extended our hand to dialogue at every moment. We have been open to coming to an agreement on the question, the date and the legal framework. We have been open, and will continue to be open until the last moment, to coming to an agreement on the conditions under which it would be possible to hold the consultation. What we cannot do, however, is fall into the trap of immobility, the trappings of legality, and do nothing at all. What a contrast with those democratic states that let the nations which comprise them voice their opinions and decide their own future! Democratic states that talk and let their people talk; that come to an agreement so that people may vote; and that use the law to listen to their people and not to silence them.
– And finally respect for the legal framework. It is pursuant to the law on consultations approved by the Parliament of Catalonia on September 19th that I sign this decree so that Catalans will be able to voice their opinion on the political future they want for Catalonia. A law that is the result of the exclusive competency on consultations defined by the Statute [of Autonomy of Catalonia] that is currently in force. A constitutional and statutory law which we demand be respected. A law that protects the consultation, that should allow the Generalitat to exercise its rightful legal, political and institutional powers with which it is endowed. What better way to exercise this competency than by hearing the opinion of the people of Catalonia?
I have the honor of being the 129th President of the Generalitat of Catalonia, an institution created in 1359 which, since the first presidency of Berenguer de Cruïlles, has reflected over the course of nearly seven centuries the Catalan people’s desire for self-government. Through those seven centuries, only external impositions have caused the suspension of self-government. Self-government which the will of the Catalan people has always sought to reclaim. Our roots are deep, as is the strength of our feelings and our will to survive in the future. We want to decide, we want to decide our future for ourselves, and we now have the legal framework and are at the right moment to do it.
I would also like to use this solemn moment to deliver a message to all Spanish citizens: Catalonia wants to decide its own political future, peacefully and democratically. The bonds of brotherhood that bring us together with the other peoples of Spain are intense and deep. We have a long history in common, a history that will continue with the desire to construct the Europe of the 21st century together with each other. In a democracy, we must solve the challenges that lie ahead of us with more democracy. It should scare no one that somebody expresses their opinion with a vote at the ballot box. This is our commitment, as this is the mandate that has been given to us by a large majority of Catalans through their votes in the last regional elections. Catalonia wants to talk, it wants to be heard, it wants to vote. The Catalonia that wants to vote is the one that is comprised of seven and a half million people; people of diverse origins, many of them from Spanish lands, and also of diverse languages. This Catalonia, a land of crossings and warm receptions, a land of cultures which over the course of centuries have crossed this corner of the Iberian Peninsula and the Mediterranean Ocean, is the Catalonia that wants to vote. And once Catalonia has expressed itself democratically, we will find the necessary frameworks for dialogue in order to construct the future. A better future for all. That is our desire.
Following the signing of this executive decree calling the consultation, the Government will use all of its powers to make it possible for Catalans to vote. Now is the moment to contrast opinions, ideas and proposals. Now is the moment for each one of us to offer what they believe is best for our collective future and for everyone to say their piece. Now is the moment for each one of us to exercise our individual responsibility at the ballot box, to decide what we think is best for the future, for our future, and for the future of our children and grandchildren.
In this great hour for Catalonia, I would especially like to remember all the generations of men and women that have struggled for our country and have believed in it. Generations of Catalans, Catalans from here and Catalans from elsewhere who have made this their home, who for centuries, decades or only years have made Catalonia a land of democracy, respect, tolerance, wellbeing and harmony.
To those who will not see or experience this great hour for Catalonia, or to those of you who will see it and live it in a different way, this decree is an homage that we make to you to give you our thanks and to tell you that without you, we would not have made it here.
And to all of those Catalans who make up the Catalonia of today and of tomorrow, this decree is the challenge that we put in your hands to decide and construct your own future. Today is the beginning of a new road that will represent a new chapter in the long history of Catalonia.
I trust fully that in the end, all will be well. And I ask all to help in this undertaking.
I would like to convey a message to the european leaders and the european peoples.
Catalonia, my country, is one of the oldest nations of Europe. Nowadays, it is a modern society composed of seven and a half million people, about 70% of them with a non-catalan origin.
As all the nations in the world, Catalonia has the right to decide its political future. This is exactly the message that broad majorities of the catalan people send to the world every year since 2012, by organising hudge peaceful demonstrations in the streets of Barcelona, our main town.
Two years ago, I called early elections. My purpose was to know how large the social majority in favour of the right of selfdetermination was. The turnout was the highest in three decades. The outcome was clear: more than two-thirds of the members of Parliament were in favour of the right to decide.
As a consequence of all that, today I called a consultation on November 9 to know the opinion of the catalan people above 16 about the question on selfdetermination. That question was agreed with the majority of the catalan political forces in December last year.
We stand for democracy, dialogue and peace. We believe that political issues must be resolved by negotiation and civilised attitudes. And we know that democracy is the most civilised way to resolve difficulties between nations. This is our will and our commitment.
Long live Catalonia!”