“Catalonia is not divided and it won’t be”, said Catalan President Artur Mas during the first big event of the cross-party coalition ‘Junts pel Sí’ (Together for Yes), which brings together members of the civil society and politicians from both right and left that favour independence. In a rally attended by 40,000 people, Mas defended that ‘Junts pel Sí’ is an example of the determination of the Catalan people, which have put ideological differences aside to achieve independence from Spain. The event in Barcelona was the official presentation of the candidates of the ‘Junts pel Sí’ ticket. The cross-party coalition led by former Green MEP Raül Romeva has already achieved support from up to 57.000 citizens that have signed up as symbolic “candidates” for the 27-S election. The poll is considered by many as a ‘de facto’ referendum on independence.
The Argentine received a total of 49 votes, beating Luis Suárez (3) and Cristiano Ronaldo (2) to the award. The recognition is deserved after an exceptional season for the Barça number 10 in which he scored 58 goals in 57 competitive matches in 2015/16. He scored in the Vicente Calderón against Atlético to hand the blaugranes the league title and he found the net twice in the Copa del Rey final win over Athletic Club. Messi was exceptional in the Champions League final against Juventus, although he was unable to score the goal his performance deserved. Previously, in the semi-finals against Bayern Munich, his two goals were decisive in deciding the tie, one of which has been voted as the best of the Champions League season.
Opposition parties have accused the Catalan President of trying to use the chamber for “electoral purposes”, and the PPC has already rejected attending the debate. Artur Mas will address Parliament “probably” on the 2nd of September, just one week before the electoral campaign kicks off, according to the President of the Catalan Chamber, Nuria de Gispert. His aim is to explain why he called early elections for the 27th of September, which are considered by supporters of independence as a ‘de facto’ referendum on separation from Spain. Mas’ appearance before Parliament has the support of his Liberal CDC and the left-wing pro-independence ERC, but has been criticised by all the other opposition parties.
FC Barcelona will begin the defence of their title in Group E following the draw on Thursday in Monaco. Luis Enrique's team will begin the road to Milan - the venue for this season's final - and their first challenge will be against the sides from Germany, Italy and Belarus in the group stages. Barça have met Bayer three times in the Champions League era. AS Roma was the rival of the Joan Gamper trophy a few weeks ago, while BATE Borisov is former Barça man Aleksander Hleb’ team.
The economic crisis might be over in GDP terms, with growth in both Spain and Catalonia, but its social and labour effects still persist. That is according to the two main unions in Catalonia, UGT and CCOO, that warned on Wednesday that much still needs to be done. A report by UGT has suggested that Catalonia needs to create 400,000 new jobs to reach the levels of employment that it had before the economic crisis. The report, which analyses the situation between 2007 and 2015, regrets the fact that there are now more temporary and part-time contracts. The CCOO has said that new street mobilisations will be needed this autumn in order to ask for better working conditions for employees in the country.
Spanish officers have searched the headquarters of the Catalan President’s Liberal Party CDC and those of the party’s foundation, CatDem. Investigators have also searched the local councils of Figueres, Lloret de Mar, Sant Celoni and Sant Cugat del Vallès, all towns in which the party is currently or has previously been in power. The searches are part of an ongoing investigation into alleged irregular financing of the party. The general coordinator of CDC, Josep Rull, denied the accusation of irregular financing, saying that all donations to the foundation CatDem have always been “legal and public”. In a press conference in Barcelona, Rull accused the Spanish government of trying to “influence” the electoral campaign. Catalonia is going to the polls on the 27th of September in what many consider a ‘de facto’ plebiscite on independence from Spain.
The Vicepresident of the Spanish Government, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, confirmed on Friday that the People’s Party won’t include constitutional reform in its electoral manifesto. Her words shut down a debate started by her own Minister of Justice, Rafael Catalá, who suggested that Constitutional Reform could be studied. Sáenz de Santamaría said that the PP will not present any initiative to reform the Constitution because that would require a “clear objective” and “consensus” amongst political parties. The Spanish Vicepresident also warned that no constitutional reform would ever satisfy the demands of pro-independence parties in Catalonia. “It is very difficult to satisfy someone who is not willing to be satisfied”, she warned.
Roger Albinyana was invited to attend a meeting of the Commission of International Affairs of the Latin American country to discuss the independence process in Catalonia, the reasons behind it and what could happen after the 27th of September election. The Catalan Foreign Affairs Secretary appeared before the Commission, despite reported “pressure” from Spanish diplomats to cancel the event. The spokesperson for Liberal CDC in the Spanish Senate, Josep-Lluís Cleries, urged Spanish Minister José Manuel García-Margallo to clarify whether his embassy in Montevideo had tried to cancel the appearance. It’s the third time that a foreign country has convened a debate about the independence process in Catalonia, following similar events in Denmark and Ireland.