Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Independence referendum date to be moved forward if “convenient”


Barcelona (CNA).- The Catalan Government does not exclude the possibility of organising an independence referendum before September 2017, the date initially signalled by President Carles Puigdemont, if “circumstances” make this option the most “convenient”. That is according to the Presidency Minister and Spokeswoman of the Government, Neus Munté, who stressed that the date of the vote should allow enough time to organise it properly. However, Munté did not specify under which circumstances the Catalan Government would try to move forward the referendum. The Spanish Vice President, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría said that the date of the vote does not matter as a referendum will “always be against the Constitution”.

“Everything will need to be ready and we will have to consider when is the best moment to hold the vote”, said Neus Munté during a press conference in Barcelona after a cabinet meeting. “The date should serve the strategy and nothing else. Should serve the objective of having everything ready to do it right”, she added.

Asked about whether or not the referendum could be moved forward, she said it would depend on “the circumstances, the preparation” and the political “moment”. “As long as this allows for a referendum with all the necessary guarantees”, she pointed out. The Catalan Government won during the weekend the support of the Radical Left CUP to pass the 2017 budget. The organisation wants an independence vote in Catalonia as soon as possible, as it does not consider it possible to achieve an agreement with the Spanish government.

Although she did not mention which special circumstances might prompt an advance of the referendum, Munté said that the “political” trial against former Catalan President Artur Mas and former ministers Joana Ortega and Irene Rigau, which starts on Monday, is already an “exceptional” situation. According to her, the “persecution against the Catalan Government and Parliament” is “not only not stopping, but increasing”.

The National Pact for the Referendum, a cross-party group of politicians, civil society organisations and experts in favour of a vote, is meeting on Wednesday to discuss a manifesto. Munté said that a hypothetical plan to advance the referendum won’t affect the cross-party unity in favour of the vote. Some groups, such as those represented by the Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, want to prioritise a negotiation with Spain before pushing for a unilateral vote. However, faced with a continuous backlash from Madrid, others think that going ahead with the referendum anyway will eventually be the only option to put the question to the people. 

  • Munte_press_conference

  • Catalan Government's Spokeswoman before the journalists during a press conference (by ACN)