INSTITUTIONAL STATEMENT OF THE VICEPRESIDENT AND THE SPOKESPERSON OF THE CATALAN GOVERNMENT
Good afternoon to all
We want to announce the decision to postpose 14 February elections to the Catalan Parliament until the following Sunday, 30 May. The reason behind this decision is to minimise the epidemiological risk and ensure that the electoral process can be held with a high demand for democratic quality.
We postpone the elections until 30 May, because it is the best decision against the pandemic, and it ensures that everyone can exercise the right to vote.
As we have been warning for weeks, the evolution of the pandemic is very worrying and given the certainty that the coming weeks will be very difficult in terms of health, we are forced to make the decision to postpone the elections to the following spring, in a context we expect to be more epidemiologically favourable.
We were ready for the elections to take place with the utmost security possible on 14 February. All the necessary measures had been taken and implemented in order to hold the electoral process despite the context of the pandemic. However, the current evolution of COVID-19 ―Europe suffering the consequences of a third wave that is exceeding all expectations― shows that maintaining the elections on the scheduled date is an unbearable risk at the health level and a detriment to the participation that legitimizes any democratic process.
This is a very thoughtful and reasoned decision, taken after a process of deliberation with all the parties with parliamentary representation, and it has enabled us to build a broad consensus regarding the new date of the elections. I thank all of them for their willingness to collaborate with the Government in designing an electoral process adapted to COVID-19 and above all, the understanding shown when finding a new election date.
Our commitment until the elections, considering the exceptionality of the moment, is none other than appearing as many times as necessary in the Permanent Deputation of Parliament in order to explain how we are facing the pandemic and at the same time, dialogue and cooperate with all the political forces to strengthen the collective commitment in the fight against COVID-19.
Therefore, I ask that we all maintain the responsible attitude we have shown today and that we isolate the pandemic from the electoral dispute. We do not want to confuse citizens in such a harsh context due to a pure electoral calculation. Let us be responsible and live up to the difficulties of the moment.
We postpone the elections until 30 May in order to avoid having an electoral process during the most difficult weeks of the third wave of the pandemic. We postpone the elections until 30 May in order to prevent no one from giving up their right to vote for fear of becoming infected. We want to save lives and preserve the right to vote for everyone.
Weeks are coming where we must all focus solely and exclusively on the evolution of the pandemic and the need to prevent, at all costs, the collapse of the health system. Nothing should distract us. This must be the main concern of every one of us. Out of responsibility. Out of commitment. And because our lives are at stake and this is the only thing in this world that is irretrievable.
It will soon be a year since the arrival of the pandemic in Catalonia. An unprecedented health, social, economic and emotional crisis for most of us all. A crisis that has taken many lives. Too many lives. And a crisis that has led us to the most absolute uncertainty. It has brought back fears and anxieties. Loneliness and sadness.
However, in the face of all these adversities, in the face of all these difficulties, the values of cooperation and solidarity need to make us regain optimism. Helping us to think collectively, to strengthen our social and community commitment and to always work for the common good.
From day one we are devoting all our energy to fight COVID-19 and the economic crisis it has caused. Without resting. Seeking the impossible balance between health needs, social needs, economic needs and the emotional needs of the citizens. However, we have always known that despite the enormous difficulties we will be able to defeat the pandemic and emerge stronger from the crisis.
Therefore, the Catalan Government also wants to open a new stage and redouble the energy to overcome the pandemic. Strengthening ourselves from high doses of shared work in the face of the common goal of placing the citizenry at the centre, overcoming the difficult weeks ahead and starting to climb to the recovery.
Today, we announce a new elections date, 30 May, with a climate less conducive to the pandemic and a significant portion of the population already vaccinated.
Above all, today we reaffirm the Government's commitment to the citizens of Catalonia. To overcome the pandemic and to face the best future with all the energy and hope.
Decree 1/2021 of January 15 will be published tomorrow in the Official Journal of the Catalan Government, cancelling the elections of the Parliament of Catalonia of the 14th of February 2021, due to the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and postponed until the 30th of May 2021, following an analysis of the epidemiological and public health circumstances and the evolution of the pandemic itself in Catalonia.
In the face of the pandemic, the Honourable President Torra made a request for an opinion on August 3rd to the Legal Advisory Committee on the right to vote of Catalans in a pandemic situation, in order to anticipate the scenarios possible and the measures to be taken to preserve the right to vote, as well as to ensure its legal fit.
In response to the consultation, the Legal Advisory Committee issued an opinion on 17 September, analysing the organizational and legislative measures that the Catalan Government can adopt in order to guarantee public health, the right to health of the people involved in the electoral processes and the right to vote of the citizens.
In its conclusions, the Legal Advisory Committee states that if it is not possible to guarantee the elections in conditions of freedom and equality, the truly democratic nature of the elections and the democratic legitimacy of the institutions could be questioned. As a result, the option of suspending the effects of the call for elections and resuming it when the health conditions and measures adopted enable it.
This decision, as requested by the Legal Advisory Committee itself, must be based on a technical justification that accredits the situation of infection risk and the insufficiency of the measures adopted for the elections with guarantees, and the report of the legal services of the Catalan Government presented today.
Since the automatic dissolution of the Catalan Parliament on 22 December and the consequent call for elections for the 14th of February 2021, the epidemiological and welfare situation in Catalonia has experienced a general worsening, which has forced the Catalan Government to adopt restrictive measures on mobility and social interaction in order to slow down the spread of the pandemic.
It is a well-known fact that we are at a time when COVID-19 infection has accelerated, with a high probability that the current situation of the pandemic will extend beyond the 14th of February 2021, as included in the report presented today by the director of the Public Health Agency of Catalonia.
Similarly, the report issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Institutional Relations and Transparency determines that in the current epidemiological and public health circumstances the measures adopted are not enough to fully guarantee the protection of the health of citizenship in the course of the electoral process.
For all this, and in accordance with these reports and the opinion of the Legal Advisory Commission, it is stated that the sanitary circumstances prevent to guarantee the conditions for the development of a free electoral process, making both difficult the electoral campaign and the election day.
Therefore, it is necessary to cancel the elections to the Parliament of Catalonia on the 14th of February 2021, and to postpone them until the 30th of May 2021.
A possibility that we already foresee in the Decree 147/2020 of December 21 of automatic dissolution of the Parliament of Catalonia and the elections for the 14th of February 2021, and at the same time, it also supports the opinion of many experts, the report of the Catalan Ombudsman and the party table.
Over the next few days, we will report on how the entire electoral calendar is reconfigured and the changes and alterations needed. For instance, the electoral census will need to be modified. In this sense, the will of the Government is to facilitate the procedures already carried out as much as possible with the validations necessary.
In short, the voters are the most important part of an election, and in the current pandemic conditions, we must guarantee the right to political participation, the right to vote, but also the right to health and the right to life.