[By Vicent Partal. Originally published in Vilaweb on 9 June 2010]
Less than a year has passed since the referendum in Arenys de Munt and yesterday the Parliament of Catalonia has, for the first time ever, initiated the process that can lead the Principality to an official referendum on independence. There are those who are very pessimistic and who say it won't happen, but that's not important right now. Now what is our responsibility is what is on the table. It's time to flood Parliament with signatures.
We have arrived further than ever before. The IP [People's Initiative] for the first time opens a clear and clean way toward a referendum. The more signatures that get to Parliament, the more difficult it will be for them, all of them, to say no. It's true that the declarations yesterday made by CiU don't encourage euphoria, exactly. (I think they made a grave mistake, just the same.) It's also true that Esquerra's attitude these last years has also made for incertainty. And it's true that within Iniciativa, there are those who don't like what they see. It's clear, in conclusion, that the Spanish Government will try to keep it from happening.
But all of that is just part of the process. Soon we will be able to gather signatures to ask Parliament to hold this referendum. And we will have to do it not only with the idea that Parliament will vote on it, but also that Spain will have a hand, and above all, what Europe will think.
This IP is well thought out. It has been designed so that the expected 'no' from the Spanish Government will have to be a political one and a challenge to democratic norms. It is very important, with an eye toward Europe, that the support for the initiative be massive and heterogeneous and that Spain be unable to point out any legal or procedural flaw. Because then, if we make it, the game will change definitively, and the European Union will not be able to look the other way ever again.
Let's imagine that instead of 300,000 signatures we actually gather 500,000. Imagine if we collect a million. It depends solely on what we are capable of doing. Now, a situation like this would make it very hard for our parties to oppose this and it would be a defeat for the Spanish Government, within the European context. If it goes through, let it go through, but if it doesn't, let it not be because we didn't do our part. It would be unpardonable given how far we've come already.