Last night, the president of the Government of Catalonia, Artur Mas, expounded, as principal leader of the country, his plan to complete the political process that began two years ago, which focused on the right of the Catalan nation to decide on its political future.
Standing before an audience of more than 3,000 people in the Barcelona Forum, President Mas asked the political parties for “generosity” in order to “assemble a sufficiently ample, transversal and strong list with a clear programme that would obtain a majority in Parliament and would, therefore, put into evidence before the entire world, that Catalonia wants to become a new Sate”.
“These are times to decide and to add; it is not a time for personal conditions” declared the President, to which he added “there are no personal conditions here, instead there are conditions for a project to guarantee that Catalonia and its citizens succeed”.
To achieve this joint effort by the political formations, Artur Mas committed himself to "set up a combined list which would integrate members of civil society, professionals and specialists in key areas to allow for the construction of a Catalan State", in addition to the "individuals nominated by the political parties involved" he added.
This list, explained the President, “would only be submitted once, as an act of service to the country” and for this reason would not repeat itself in subsequent elections and would have a short term mandate, “a maximum of a year and a half from the constitution of the new Parliament and the election of the President of the Government”.
On completion of this mandate, “the Parliament and the Government would uphold the new Catalan elections, which would then be constituent” and, coinciding with the new elections, “a referendum would be also be called so that citizens of Catalonia can decide on the definitive proclamation of a new State”.
“Through this unique double act, elections and referendum, Catalonia would, once again, exert its sovereignty with the endorsement of the polls" announced President Mas.
These constituent elections, would have to be accompanied, as was expressed by the President, by an “engagement of formal negotiations so as to establish the conditions of the new State”, a refinement of State structures to assure the efficient transition towards the constitution of a new Sate as well as its necessary legislative foundation. The launching of a participative process would also be required during the year and a half in order to prepare the bases for the future Catalan constitution, which would then be approved in the subsequent legislative mandate.
This gesture of generosity which was asked of the political formations would be responded by the President of Catalonia in the form of two commitments. Firstly, if in leading the candidacy the elections are won with an absolute majority, the President assured that he would no longer present himself as presidential candidate for Government of Catalonia. And secondly, Artur Mas stressed that he could either “lead the list or close it, in other words, I can be the first on the list or I could also be the last”.
“Without fear of unjust prosecutions”
Before submitting his proposal for the future, the head of the Catalan government dedicated much of his speech in explaining how Catalonia has reached the stage in which it finds itself and what path it should take as it heads into the future.
Regarding the current situation, the President explained that Catalonia and the central Sate "are moving in different wave frequencies" and while Catalonia "calls for better and more self-governance" the State "executes a process re-centralization". Therefore, the President explained that "the main cause of what is happening in Catalonia is due to the Spanish government’s behaviour" because "it has failed and continues to fail the majority of Catalans".
In this regard, the Chief Executive made reference to the “shut door” Catalonia was faced when trying to agree with the Spanish State on the terms for a referendum. The President also denounced that the central Executive “exercises politics through the courts and puts pressure on the public prosecutor’s office to disable, fine or even deprive members of the Government of their liberty for the simple crime of listening to the people and for doing everything in their power to ensure ballot boxes are put into place”. “If it is necessary, we will do it again, without fear of unjust prosecution” Mas warned.
Given the constant refusal of the State to agree on a settlement with Catalonia, president Mas stated that "the time has come to use the only instrument that we have left in order to carry out the consultation which we have been denied". And although emphasising that early elections "are not the best of instruments", Mas stressed that "there is no other instrument" because "elections only depend on us and are legal by definition".
In this regard, he also highlighted that "I will only call for early elections if they are to have a consultation” and “if they are to be used to change the Government or to change the composition of the Parliament, the elections would be held at the end of the legislature, in other words, at the end of 2016”.
“It will be the political parties and civil society organizations that will make ordinary elections into the consultation that we have not been allowed to have in any other way” Mas affirmed.
The president highlighted that the most important issue regarding elections or consultations "is the result, which should be clear and understood by everyone" and they "cannot lead to discussions on what has been voted on". For this reason, Mas said that "there must be a clear question or program" which means knowing exactly whether citizens want Catalonia to become an independent State or not.