Monday, 15 February 2016

Holding a referendum in Catalonia indispensable for Podemos agreement with PSOE


Barcelona (CNA).- Catalonia should be allowed to hold a referendum “with guarantees” and with “a single, clear question”. This is one of alternative left ‘Podemos’s conditions for reaching an agreement with the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and, according to Podemos’ leader Pablo Iglesias, “it is indispensable”. At a press conference this Monday, Iglesias emphasised his party’s will to “reform the territorial model” in Spain and recognise its different “national realities”. However, PSOE’s spokesman in the Spanish Parliament, Antonio Hernando, has closed the door on Podemos’ proposal. “We will say no to this referendum” he stated and assured that Iglesias “doesn’t know where he stands”. In the same vein, Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) spokeswoman Esther Niubó has assured that Podemos’ conditions “are not helping” to form a new government in Spain.

The 100-page document which Podemos presented this Monday establishes that the current situation makes it “indispensable” to call a referendum “with all the democratic, legal and logistical guarantees” in Catalonia “so that the citizens can exercise the right to decide their political future”. According to Podemos, article 92 of the Spanish Constitution establishes that “those political decisions of an important transcendence could be asked at referendum”. Iglesias also emphasised that the referendum’s question has to be “single and clear”.

The alternative left party described this proposal not only as the way out of the “lack of political dialogue” which has defined the current situation but also a solution which generates a greater consensus amongst the citizens and which would allow “a real debate” on the different options. As an example, Podemos’ document names the approaches and management of similar situations in Quebec and Canada and the UK and Scotland. “It is the real way to a positive solution and the best framework possible so that the different projects can be fully defended”, states the proposal.

Reforming the Spanish Constitution

Podemos have also called for reforming the Spanish Constitution in order to “guarantee the social, civil and political rights”. For example, they suggest to modify article 2 of the Constitution in order to “recognise and respect [Spain’s] plurinational reality and that of the political communities which form Spain”. In this vein, Iglesias insisted on the possibility of creating a Spanish Ministry for Plurinationality, and public administrations and municipalities, which could solve “two historical democratic deficits”. Thus, the main objectives of this ministry would be first to find a new fit for all the nations, political communities and territories which decide for this and, secondly, to tackle “the difficult situation” of the local administration.

Regarding the first objective, the new ministry would be responsible for driving the referendum in Catalonia and establishing a new funding system based on “the principles of equality, territorial justice and solidarity between territories”.

PSOE “will say no to this referendum”

PSOE’s spokesman in the Spanish Parliament, Antonio Hernando, assured that PSOE “will say no to this referendum” and admitted to having received Podemos’ proposal “with perplexity, concern and disappointment”. “Pablo, you don’t know where you are standing” he stated, addressing Podemos’ leader, “when has the head of state requested you to form government? Have we missed something?” he asked rhetorically. Hernando also asked Iglesias to respect the Spanish Constitution and stated that he believes now is the time to hold dialogue between the so-called “forces of change” and support a “progressive government” rather than compete with each other.

PSC spokeswoman Esther Niubó has lauded PSOE’s response and assured that the Socialists “are not willing to give in” to Catalonia’s referendum. Niubó also stated that Podemos’ conditions, which she described as “red lines”, “are not helping” to form a new government in Spain.   

  • Iglesias_i_Sanchez

  • PSOE's leader, Pedro Sánchez and alternative left Podemos' leader, Pablo Iglesias on a meeting this Friday (by ACN)