23of October 2016
The Right To Decide
28/02/2013 Edward Hugh
According to Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, answering questions at a recent Spain Summit organized by the Economist magazine, “a majority of Catalans do not want to lose their status as Spanish citizens”. Curious answer I thought. How would he know? Does he have some special sort of information the rest of us don’t have?

Certainly the opinion of Catalan voters, as expressed at the ballot box, suggests the exact opposite. In last November’s elections to the Catalan Parliament a significant majority of voters backed parties whose objective is clearly that of laying the foundations for a new state, while an overwhelming majority supported parties in favor of Catalans having a vote to decide their future.

Only this week in the Spanish Parliament some 60 deputies (including those belonging to the Catalan Socialist Party) voted for a motion to allow the Catalans to have a vote over their own future, while some 200 others (almost entirely from other parts of Spain) voted against.

From this we can deduce two things. In the first place the Spanish Prime Minister does not seem to be particularly well informed about the true state of public opinion in Catalonia.

In the second place it seems clear that it is very unlikely that the Spanish Parliament would ever vote to allow a consultation in Catalonia on self-determination. Which leaves the Catalans themselves with a dilemma. What they want is a vote, a legal one. The Catalan Parliament is preparing a law on popular consultations, but it is more than likely the Spanish government will challenge any such law in the Constitutional Court. And naturally if the Spanish Parliament won’t even accept a law making such a consultation possible there is even less likelihood they will vote to change the Spanish constitution to enable the Catalan Parliament to approve one.

So we have deadlock. In all of this there is only one thing which is clear. There is a large majority in the Catalan Parliament in favour of holding a consultation, and it is very likely this consultation will be held. Then, and only then, will we get to see just how Spain and Europe’s leaders respond.
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