Catalan government open to dialogue until deadline
Executive will take no decisions until Thursday limit set by Spanish government, while independence parties study next step in Parliament
The Catalan government stands by the offer of dialogue president Carles Puigdemont made to the Spanish executive and “will not take any decision” until Thursday, despite the imprisonment of the heads of the pro-independence civic organisations, ANC and Òmnium. Spanish president Mariano Rajoy has given Puigdemont until Thursday to clarify whether he made a declaration of independence on October 10 in the Catalan Parliament. Puigdemont offered Madrid a two-month period of negotiations, but this has so far been rejected by Rajoy's executive.
However, that did not stop the leader of the PSC Catalan socialists, Miquel Iceta, from calling on Puigdemont to summon the heads of the parliamentary parties before Thursday. In a letter sent to the president on Tuesday, Iceta pointed out that the cancellation of this week’s plenary session in the Catalan Parliament had prevented party heads from expressing their opinion on how the president should respond to Rajoy’s Thursday deadline. Iceta's party is against independence and was opposed to the October 1 vote.
In any case, the Catalan government insists it “will not sit by and watch the attacks on Catalan institutions,” warned a spokesman, who added that “for there to be dialogue, both parties must want dialogue.” The spokesman also justified the government’s decision to wait until Thursday as it gives more time to analyze the situation and if necessary adjust positions in order to show, both inside and outside Spain, “that the offer of dialogue is sincere.”
Referendum Law declared unconstitutional
Despite the government’s preference for a negotiated solution to the political crisis, the spokesman nevertheless insisted that the Catalan executive would see through the mandate it was given in the October 1 referendum. On Tuesday, Spain’s Constitutional Court declared the Referendum Law passed on September 6 in the Catalan Parliament to be unconstitutional. "The mandate from the referendum is obviously the mandate we have. And we have to see it through,” said the spokesman.
"The mandate from the referendum is obviously the mandate we have. And we have to see it through"
Jordi Turull · Catalan government spokesman
Meanwhile, the government’s party, the Together for Yes (JxSí) pro-independence coalition, along with the CUP-Crida Constituent far-left coalition, which is also in favor of secession, are studying their next step. In a news conference on Tuesday, representatives of JxSi reiterated the group’s commitment to finding a way of making the results of the October 1 independence referendum binding.
A “citizen’s mandate”
This very same mandate is not only legal and binding, according to Catalan Minister of Foreign Affairs Raul Romeva. It also comes from the citizens themselves. Romeva ironically commented that he “doubts” that “millions of people who have been demonstrating peacefully in the street for years will simply go home” and “step back” because of the recent actions, expressing disbelief that “someone seriously believes” this.
He further added that “this is a legitimate – but a citizen’s – mandate,” specifying that “it’s not going to disappear.” The Minister explained that this movement is “on the street,” and “among the population.” Whoever believes the situation will be solved by “putting two leaders in jail, or even the government,” he continued, “is misreading the situation” and “reality” itself.
Romeva specified that the Catalan government believes “it’s never the right way to approach these circumstances” adding that doing so means “missing the basic point.” “This is not something that came out of the blue,” he summarized, and explained that “it has a long story behind it.” He concluded by stating that “if we don´t start acknowledging this, it will be impossible, not only to understand it – but to deal with.”
Stay “loyal to pacifism” says Llach
The JxSí representatives also commented on the imprisonment of the ANC and Òmnium heads, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart. A judge on Monday ordered the pro-independence leaders to be held in custody as part of an investigation into sedition. JxSí member and well-known singer, Lluís Llach, said the judge’s decision puts Spain on the “dark list of states that need to have political prisoners to survive.” The representatives encouraged the public to attend the protest supporting Sánchez and Cuixart at 8pm on Tuesday in Barcelona. Yet, Llach also warned the public not give into provocation but to remain “loyal to pacifism”.