Pablo Iglesias reaffirms his commitment to holding a referendum in Catalonia
Barcelona (CNA).- Pablo Iglesias, Secretary General Spanish of alternative left ‘Podemos’reaffirmed his “compromise regarding the celebration of a referendum in Catalonia” which is “the best solution to the current deadlock”. He made this statement after meeting, for the first time, with Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, at Palau de la Generalitat. “Catalan society has to decide and the vast majority of Catalans want to do so”, stated Iglesias and emphasised that he is not for Catalonia’s independence but for promoting a “constitutional reform which would recognise Catalonia as a nation”. The Catalan government’s spokeswoman, Neus Munté, explained the content of the meeting to the media and emphasised “Puigdemont’s intention to keep the roadmap”towards independence “which will continue to be developed” regardless of the negotiations to form a new government in Spain.
The Catalan government’s spokeswoman, Neus Munté, explained the content of the meeting to the media and emphasised “Puigdemont’s intention to keep the roadmap” towards independence “which will continue to be developed” regardless of the negotiations to form a new government in Spain. “We can’t be asked to put this on standby”, she stated. Puigdemont transmitted to Iglesias his “will to discuss any future scenario”which a new government in Spain “may lay on the table”. Muntéalso emphasised “Puigdemont’s interest” in Iglesias “keeping his position throughout the negotiations to form a new government in Spain” and “not taking any step back”in this field.
“This meeting helps to normalise something which, sadly, hasn’t been normal so far” stated Iglesias, “which is dialoguing, in a cordial tone, despite the ideological differences”. “We have always bid and we still do to hold a referendum in Catalonia” he emphasised and confirmed that he transmitted this compromise to Puigdemont. However, he nuanced that the meeting was “a protocolary encounter” rather than a “political negotiation”. Thus, “nothing has been made concrete”in relation to the referendum as “that would go far beyond” a “courtesy meeting”. Iglesias emphasised that he is not for Catalonia’s independence but for promoting a “constitutional reform which would recognise Catalonia as a nation”.
No agreement to form government in Spain yet
The meeting between Puigdemont and Iglesias arrived one day after the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), Spanish Unionist ‘Ciutadans’ and Podemos met to discuss a possible triple agreement to form an alternative government to current ruling’s in Spain, conservative People’s Party (PP).
Indeed, PSOE and ‘Ciutadans’ already reached an agreement in February. The 66-page document signed by both parties aimed to form “a reformist and progressive” government and foresaw an ‘express reform’ of the Spanish Constitution. The agreement included opposition to “to any attempt to hold a referendum with the objective of launching the auto-determination of any territory in Spain”, in clear reference to Catalonia’s push for independence. However, together both parties have only 130 seats, far from the 176 required to invest Sánchez in the first round and still not enough to invest him on the second round. To enhance the support, both ‘Ciutadans’ and PSOE called for those parties “which defend Spain’s unity” to “make an effort” and join the agreement, in clear reference to Podemos.
After quite an “upsetting” meeting, Iglesias decided to leave the decision to join a government in which ‘Ciutadans’ was involved in the hands of its militancy. ‘Podemos’ consultation will also include a second question on the alternative left project, to know if the basis are still supporting the party’s electoral program. According to Iglesias “Neither PSOE nor ‘Ciutadans’ are willing to cede in anything”.
On his behalf, PSOE assured that ‘Podemos’ leader “doesn’t want the change” and that by asking the militancy he “gave the agreement up for dead”, stated PSOE’s spokesman in the Spanish Parliament, Antonio Hernando. He also stated that the meeting between the three parties “wasn’t neither frank, nor honest nor truthful” and qualified ‘Podemos’ attitude as “an excuse” and “a trick”. According to him, ‘Podemos’ insist on holding a referendum in Catalonia as “a red line”.
In a similar vein, ‘Ciutadans’ leader, Albert Rivera, assured that “there won’t be more meetings” between PSOE and ‘Podemos’ as long as the alternative left party wouldn’t change its mind. “It is nonsense” to hold more meetings if the situation remains the same, he stated and accused ‘Podemos’ of “blowing up” the possibility of a new government in Spain.