Friday, September 28, 2012

The question from Europe: What will be in CiU's platform? by Ramon Tremosa

Ramon Tremosa is a Member of the European Parliament for CiU. The original version of this post can be found on Mr. Tremosa's blog. It is reproduced (and translated) here with permission.

September 27, 2012 will be a day to remember in the history of Catalonia because 84 Members of Parliament, with the President of the Generalitat as their leader, voted in favor of exercising their right to self-determination in the next legislature. Only 21 voted against. This vote, approved by almost 2/3 of the members (CiU, ICV, ERC, SI, Maragall i Laporta) and with the abstention of 26 representatives of the Socialist Party of Catalonia, was the culmination of two exciting September weeks, that began with a massive demonstration and led to today.

On the international scene, and especially in Europe, the media has given quite a different portrait of the events going on in Catalonia than has the press in Madrid, describing the early elections of November 25 as a "de facto referendum on independence" (Financial Times). Spain's loss of prestige thanks to the incompetence and arrogance of its governments, including the total financial bailout that Madrid to this day is refusing to ask for out of some sense of pride, generates shock and amazement in EU institutions and threatens to drag the euro farther down into the pits.

In this context, the path that Catalonia started out on today with early elections has as an objective to build strong majority support for sovereignty around the right to self-determination, with a broad majority of the homegrown Catalan parties which have no ties to central parties, which would be basically unanswerable in the context of a democratic Europe. The unionist parties would be well advised to present the benefits of the union (if there still are any) instead of hurling threats or manipulating reality. President Mas has grasped that in Catalonia there is already a majority in favor of a break-up, in great measure led by orderly people (as Josep Ramoneda has described, it's a break-up, not a revolt or revolution). Europe is already asking what the Catalan parties, especially CiU, plan to put in their electoral platforms, despite the fact that President Mas has been particularly clear during these historic days of debates.

1. September 25, 2012 will be remembered in Catalan history books because President Artur Mas called for early elections in the Parliament, saying "the moment has come for Catalonia to exercise its right to self-determination in the next legislature". On September 26, 2012, President Artur Mas said, also in the same Parliament, that the "referendum will be held even if it violated Spanish law" denying almost simultaneously what Duran Lleida was saying on a state radio show.

2. All of these things were said and done in Parliament: the European institutions have told me that we can organize the best civic and peaceful demonstrations in the world for the most noble of causes, as is the freedom of Catalonia, but what the EU is waiting for are "votes and acts of Parliament". In fact, the "Catalan dossier" will only be opened in European institutions from the moment the Parliament of Catalonia votes as it did last July, in which a proposal for the economic financing plan which demanded fiscal sovereignty (which is 2/3 of a country's total sovereignty) received 82 votes in favor and only 23 against.

3. In fact, in Brussels, they'e not asking "What are you Catalans doing?" but rather "When are you going to do it?" Since the outdated, politicized and discredited Spanish Constitutional Court amputated a Statute that had been voted on favorably by the people, and by both the Spanish and Catalan parliaments, many European MPs and high-level civil servants of the European Commission have seen that the Spanish Democracy doesn't even reach the level of "budget democracy". In this sense, the answer from Mas to Rajoy (who had said, "Take your fiscal pact to Congress and see how many votes it gets") that he relayed in the Parliament was one of great dignity: "Now it won't be the Spanish Congress who votes (as they did on the Ibarretxe Plan), but it will be the Catalan people who vote."

4. The most insistent question, however, that I get is "What will Ciu put in its platform for the upcoming elections?" The electoral platform is seen in most democratic countries like a sacred compact that must be fulfilled no matter what: this is what provides a "democratic mandate" like the one that makes the British government accept the Scottish Referendum. I answer that if CDC aims to be a serious and respected party in the European context, it must be predictable, consistent, and coherent, just as the Northern European parties are. That means the platform has to include the phrase "sovereign state", just as it was agreed in March of this year in its last congress in Reus.

Further, I also have to explain what I hear Josep Rull repeating in every interview I have heard him give lately: "if the State bars Catalonia's way again, the only option left will be a unilateral declaration of sovereignty by the Catalan Parliament", the thought of which terrifies the Spanish, given the precedent created by Kosovo.

5. In the EU, I haven't seen anyone question the SNP's democratic mandate, since they won the elections with such a proposal in their platform and thus are now required to hold a referendum. On the same principle, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the leader of the European Greens, told La Vanguardia on September 26 that the EU would accept Catalonia's independence if it was passed by a clear majority after following scrupulously transparent and democatic procedures. Amen.

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