Friday, October 31, 2014

President Mas says Catalan vote on political future will go on

Catalonia's President Artur Mas called a press conference at 6:30pm this evening in the Catalan Government Palace of the Generalitat to respond to the announcement by the Spanish Government that it would bring legal challenges against the new formulation of Catalonia's "participatory process" to ask the people their opinion on their political future.

Here is a video of the full press conference, mostly in Catalan, with a few Spanish questions near the end and one question (and answer) in English at 1:01:22.

I'll start with a rough translation of the introduction, which explains the general reaction to the Spanish Government's actions. I then live tweeted the central portion of the press conference, and finally offer a transcript of the English question at the end of this page.

I'll try to be brief so that people can go on with their preparations [for the holiday tomorrow]. But it seemed necessary to respond to the fact that the Spanish Government has presented a new legal challenge before the Constitutional Court, and explain what that means, and what decisions we've made about it.

The first thing I'll say is that on October 14, I announced two significant decisions: first, that we would not apply the decree convoking the consultation, that I myself signed, because of the legal challenge that the Spanish Government had brought before the Constitutional Court. I said we wouldn't apply that decree, even though we wanted to very much. And the second decision was that we would continue forward with respect to November 9th, with a participatory process, with the same aim of finding out the opinion of the Catalan people about their political future, based on the powers that the Catalan Government has with respect to citizen participation. So, therefore, the consultation that was to be called with a decree was substituted by a participatory process, that as you know is in full swing, with many decisions already taken, and that has the same objective, which is to know the opinion of the Catalan people with respect to their political future. But in this case, based on general powers of the Generalitat de Catalonia with respect to citizen participation.

The central government celebrated, at that time, two weeks ago, the suspension of the decree. I remember it perfectly. With grandiloquent words. They even lauged at what we were trying to do. They made fun of it in public. They said it was a fraud, a happening, they used a long series of descriptions to belittle what we had announced as a substitute of the decree that could not be applied, and the intention of keeping on with November 9th as a participatory process.

I want to make it clear that after this first reaction of the Spanish government, two weeks later, they have gone from making fun of it, to bringing a legal challenge before the Constitutional Court. That is, they have crossed the line of ridiculousness. When a government, the Spanish State, two weeks ago, laughs at what we're doing, ridiculizes it, publicly, makes a big joke out of it, and then only two weeks later presents a challenge to the Constitutional Court, it's a government that has clearly crossed the line into ridiculousness. If what we are doing is so serious, why wasn't it so serious two weeks ago? On October 14, I explained exactly what we were going to do, and that is exactly what we've done. If that was so serious as to warrant a legal challenge before the Constitutional Court, why did they take two weeks before making any decision, meanwhile laughing at us, making fun, ridiculizing us?

In addition, besides being ridiculous, the Spanish Government is abusing its power, and abusing the law. Both things at the same time. It is using the Constitutional Court improperly and incorrectly. Giving it a role that does not correspond to it. It is not the role of the Constitutional Court to resolve political conflicts and a court like the Constitutional Court should not be used to solve problems that others cannot solve. These actions make it clear that the Spanish Government is incapable of solving its own problems politically without presenting legal challenges before the Court which hide the inability of the Spanish Government to find solutions to problems it is faced with. By doing so, I think the Spanish Government uses the Consitutional Court in an almost obscene fashion, because it doesn't make sense to use the court this way, nor is there any reason to do so.

The rest of the conference was live-tweeted:

(Note there are two page of tweets.)
Q: What is the vision that the outside world has right now of the Spanish Government?

#CatalanPresident: I don't know what the opinion is in foreign countries. This is something you have to ask other people. But my impression is that probably in the world they can realize that the Catalan people want to vote. We have the will to vote. We have the will, the real and strong will to decide our political futre as a nation, as a country. This is the reality. And this is something that all the people in the world should know. And we are trying to do so.

We have very big difficulties, very big difficulties because it is almost impossible to sit at the table with the central government and agree to terms for the consultation in Catalonia. We have recent events in this sense, recent examples: what happened in Scotland some weeks ago. There was an agreement between the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish leaders and the British Government. And the British allowed the Scottish to vote. The British allowed the Scottish to decide their political future. And the British won! But that's democracy. You can win and you can lose. This is real democracy.

And there is a lack of high-quality democracy in Spain. As you can realize, because although the Catalan government and the Catalan institutions are doing their best in order to reach agreements with the central government in order to sit at the table to try to reach these kinds of agreements, it is not possible, because they say No to every proposal, to every suggestion we send from Catalonia.

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