Catalonia set to defy Spanish government in push for independence

Stuart Rodger

President of the Catalan Parliament says intransigence of the Spanish Government has left it with no choice

THE President of the Catalan Parliament has affirmed its commitment to pursue independence in defiance of the Spanish state.

The Catalan Parliament will this week debate the findings of a working group on sovereignty, after a resolution on the pursuit of independence was passed last year. Speaking to The Guardian, President Carme Forcadell said the moves were in response to the Spanish state’s continued intransigence: “The [Spanish state] has left us feeling that we just don’t have an alternative.”

She added that they would have preferred to follow the precedent offered by Scotland: “We have always said that we would have preferred a Scottish-type scenario, where we could negotiate with the state and hold a coordinated and democratic referendum. We keep talking to Madrid, but all we get back from them is an echo.”

“I’m being very careful with my words: it’s legitimate and it’s not illegal.” Carme Forcadell

The Catalan regional authorities have already begun the process of setting up a tax collecting agency, a social security system, and a foreign affairs department.

The statement comes after pro-independence parties won a majority in the regional elections of 2015 – with the Junt pel Si (Together for Yes) coalition winning the most seats, forming a coalition with the radical-left CUP to secure its parliamentary majority. Polls in Catalonia show that some 48 per cent of citizens support independence, while 42 per cent are opposed and the rest undecided.

Forcadell said recent revelations about the Spanish interior minister’s intention to incriminate political rivals demonstrated the Spanish Government’s attitude to Catalonia: “When the interior minister, who’s meant to defend the interests of all citizens, is caught conspiring to find evidence against citizens solely because they think differently? How can absolutely nothing come of that? We don’t understand it?”

On the question of legality, she insisted such movements towards independence were legitimate: “I’m being very careful with my words: it’s legitimate and it’s not illegal. It’s true that the [Spanish] constitution says what it says. But constitutions are texts that exist to serve a particular moment in history and certain circumstances.”

When asked about the implications for Catalonia of the recent Brexit referendum result in the UK, she said: “In Catalan logic, yes, we don’t like Brexit, but we understand that the democratic deficit in Europe is what allowed leave to win.”

On whether an independent Catalonia would find itself outside the EU, she said: “Europe wouldn’t want to lose such an economically and socially dynamic reality. So this unthinking assumption that an independent Catalonia would be kept out [of the EU] is false.”

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