Catalonia to hold self-determination referendum on October 1, 2017
Barcelona (ACN).- The Catalan independence referendum will be held on October 1, 2017, the Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, said Friday. Citizens will be asked: "Do you want Catalonia to be an independent country in the form of a Republic?" Puigdemont announced the date and question for the referendum flanked by Vice President Oriol Junqueras and the rest of his government. Members of Parliament from both the Junts pel Sí coalition and the radical-left CUP, as well as the President of the chamber, Carme Forcadell, were also in attendance.
The Catalan government said the vote will be organized with "all guarantees" and the result will be implemented, whichever it is. "All options are equally legitimate and valid," Puigdemont said. "Democracy unites us all beyond our legitimate and healthy discrepancies," he added. The Catalan President urged all citizens to participate in the referendum, arguing that deciding about the future of the country is "an inalienable right".
"We have sought an agreement again and again," Puigdemont explained, describing the initiatives of his government over the last year and a half: "We have actively participated in the National Pact for the Referendum. We have presented proposals to agree on a negotiation. We have adopted parliamentary and government resolutions urging the Spanish executive to talk and negotiate. We have directly expressed to the Spanish government our firm determination to sit down at the table and negotiate a solution. We have explained this around the world, in London, Brussels, Paris, Boston, Washington, New York, and Madrid."
"But we are at the end of our legislative term and we haven't had a single positive answer," he said, arguing that Madrid's refusal to negotiate a vote on independence justifies organizing it under the authority of the Catalan Parliament. "Fulfilling our democratic commitment, today we have collectively ratified, with the Vice President and all our ministers, our willingness to call the citizens of our country, in the exercise of their legitimate right to self-determination, to a referendum that will be held on Sunday, October 1," Puigdemont announced.
"It's up to the Catalans to decide their future," the Catalan President said in this speech, held in the famous 'Pati dels Tarongers', in the government headquarters in Barcelona. The question will have to be answered with a single 'yes' or 'no', and will be written in the three official languages of the country: Catalan, Spanish, and Aranese, a language spoken by a minority in the Pyrenees.
Catalan Vice President attacks Madrid
The Catalan Vice President and Minister of Economy, Oriol Junqueras, criticized the attitude of the Spanish government during his statement, which has refused to negotiate a referendum. According to Junqueras, Madrid "violates fundamental democratic rights" and is behaving "undemocratically". Junqueras said, referring to recent revelations of an alleged smear campaign against Catalan officials, that the Spanish government has "ministers that openly conspire against the Catalan health system and try to frame political representatives with false accusations."
The Vice President also explained that the Spanish government, led by conservative leader Mariano Rajoy, is damaging the economic interests of Catalonia and even putting social justice at risk by challenging important laws of the Catalan executive in court such as the one against energy poverty.