Catalonia: a referendum vote

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Two girls dressed in the "starry", the banner used by the Catalan separatists, and the Spanish flag, wander the streets of Barcelona during a demonstration in October. - Photo credits: Emilio Morenatti / AP

VIDEO - The Catalans elect a new Parliament on Thursday, but the crisis with Madrid will probably not stop with this election.

Special Envoy to Barcelona -  Mathieu de Taillac

The Catalan elections on Thursday are the find of the Spanish Prime Minister. Mariano Rajoy intended to put an end to the unprecedented secessionist crisis that culminated on 27 October with the declaration of independence of the regional Parliament. As part of Article 155 of the Constitution, which makes it possible to place under a tutelage a rebel region, and which had never been used, Rajoy took control of the Catalan institutions the time strictly necessary to dissolve the Parliament and to call new elections. By this minimal application of Article 155, Madrid intended to kill in the bud any criticism of authoritarianism and dreamed of conquering durably independentism, who had proved his inability to implement the newly proclaimed Republic.

It was counting without the action of justice, which keeps in pre-trial detention four secessionist leaders, whose head of list of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC, center left), Oriol Junqueras; without the maneuver of the dismissed Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, who runs the campaign on his list Junts per Catalunya (JpC, center right) from Belgium where he entrenched himself to avoid his arrest; and without the emotional strategy of the separatists, who rather than defend the meager balance sheet of their action - the theoretical Catalan Republic has not been recognized by any country in the world - presents these elections as a referendum between the supposed Spanish repression and freedom Catalans to hold the reins of their destiny.

"Either it's the country that wins, or it's Rajoy!"

Carles Puidgemont

On Tuesday evening, ERC held its last rally in front of Estremera Prison, in the Madrid area, where Junqueras is being held, to finally get all the electoral benefit possible from the personal difficulties of his head of the list. JpC once again connected to Brussels, from where Puigdemont addressed by videoconference to its militants, who listened to him in a hundred concomitant meetings. "Either it's the country that wins, or it's Rajoy!", He dramatized.

As a result, there is no reason to believe that this election will undo the unprecedented state crisis that strikes Spain, threatened, at least in rhetoric, dislocation, and Catalonia, where more than 3,000 companies have announced transfer of their head office to other Spanish regions. According to the latest poll published byEl Periodic Andorra, a subsidiary used by a Catalan daily to publish its surveys beyond the legal deadline in Spain, the block of three independentist lists can obtain an absolute majority of 68 seats ... or miss it very little.

This study assigns a range of 36-37 seats to ERC, 26-27 to JpC, and 5-6 to the Unitat Popular Candidatura (CUP, far left). Opposite, the bloc favorable to the unity of Spain is led by Ciudadanos (C's, liberal center), to which the poll gives 31 or 32 deputies, followed by the Socialists (PSC, 20 or 21) and by the Party popular (PP, 4 or 5), Rajoy's conservative training. Between the two, Catalunya in Comu Podem (CECP, radical left), neither independenceist nor unionist, dreams of being king-maker of a very difficult post-electoral alliance.

If the separatists repeat their absolute majority, they will seek an agreement to stay in power. The negotiations promise to be difficult between ERC and JpC. And if the majority is small, secessionists will not be able to afford to give up votes to MPs in prison or abroad. Unless the strategy is precisely to cause the blockage, attributing it to the supposed Spanish authoritarianism that would prevent to govern a legitimately elected majority ...

The risk of cross-vetoes

"CECP says it has the key of the majority, says Joan Marcet, professor of political science at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. But some alliances are impossible. The three left parties ERC, CUP and CECP will not have a majority, and the PSC will refuse to join. A Cs - PSC - CECP - PP block also seems unthinkable. "

To avoid cross-vetoing between the radical left and the center right, the head of the PSC's list, Miquel Iceta, thinks he has a solution: that he be invested president, even if he comes fourth, because his program would be the more central of the four non-independence forces. "But even if Ciudadanos agreed to give up the chairmanship, the Iceta option is very complicated for CECP, which will find it difficult to associate with the PP and even with C's, perceived in Catalonia as more to the right than in the rest of the world. Spain, "says the political scientist.

Finally, there is one last possibility, governed by Catalan legislation. If no government is formed in February, new elections will automatically be called in April. In this hypothesis, Catalonia would look a lot like Spain, which had to vote in June 2016 after the December 2015 elections failed to give birth to a government.


SEPTEMBER 6 The Catalan Parliament adopts a law authorizing the organization of a referendum on the independence of the region on 1 October.

SEPTEMBER 20 Several Catalan officials are arrested by the Civil Guard.

October 1st The referendum takes place under tension. It leads to a yes victory with 90.18% of the votes cast, with 43% of participation. Nearly 850 people are injured by the police.

OCTOBER 3 King Felipe VI deplores the "irresponsible attitude" of the Catalan leaders.

OCTOBER 10th Carles Puigdemont proclaims the right of the region to become an independent state while suspending the implementation of the process to allow a dialogue.

OCTOBER 11th Madrid gives the Catalan executive eight days to abandon its goal.

21ST OF OCTOBERAfter an extraordinary council of ministers, Mariano Rajoy announces, under Article 155 of the Constitution, the dismissal of the regional government and the supervision of the Parliament of Catalonia and said he would like to hold regional elections.

OCTOBER 27th The Catalan Parliament adopts a unilateral declaration of independence and declares itself in favor of a "constituent process" in order to separate Catalonia. With the agreement of the Spanish Senate, Rajoy announces the dismissal of the Catalan executive, the dissolution of the regional Parliament and the holding of early elections on December 21st.

NOVEMBER 2 Placement in remand of nine Catalan leaders. A European arrest warrant targets Carles Puigdemont, who won Belgium on 30 October.

NOVEMBER 11TH Hundreds of thousands of independence supporters march to Barcelona to demand the release of the separatists.

DECEMBER 5 Withdrawal of the international arrest warrant against Puigdemont and four members of his former government.

Source: ©  Catalonia: a referendum vote

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