Catalonia independence referendum: date, questions and Spanish response

As you’ll have heard by now. A referendum on Catalan independence “will be held” on November 9 2014. It will consist of two questions: “Should Catalonia be a state? And if so, should it be an independent state?”. CiU, ERC, ICV-EUiA and CUP agreed these terms. This represents a plurality of the parties in the Catalan parliament. The agreement came days before the potential collapse of the CiU government over a budget vote due next week.

The response from Rajoy was immediate: “It’s not negotiable. It won’t happen”.

Jordi Cañas of C’s (such a fitting name) maybe hinted at the unionist approach on TV3 just now: “There won’t be a referendum in November next year” he said, “there will be elections”. And as suggested here before, this is the most likely strategy of Spanish opposition to Catalan independence: deny the right to a referendum and thereby encourage the ‘other path to independence’ – elections followed by a unilateral declaration of independence. This would put Madrid in a much better position in terms of international support and negotiating power. It is, I reckon, the preferred outcome in Madrid because of how easy it would be to paint the Catalans as thoroughly antidemocratic, as well as sowing disagreement between the pro-referendum parties (Iniciativa won’t agree to a UDI as an election pledge, I shouldn’t think).

So, in short: this time next year, we’ll still be talking about what might happen.

7 thoughts on “Catalonia independence referendum: date, questions and Spanish response

  1. How would you count the ‘No’ vote Tom? By my reckoning it has to include those who vote ‘No’ on both questions, whereas the pro-independence vote can only be those who vote ‘Yes’ to the 2nd.

    1. IMO the “No” vote would be those who vote No on either question. Though for reasons previously discussed, the question is probably moot, as all signs indicate that no referendum will be held on 9 November next year.

    2. Good point. I think that legitimately, nothing other than a SiSi should count as being pro-independence. And theoretically, you can’t vote Yes to the 2nd question unless you’ve answered yes to the first one.

      And I agree: holding a referendum is very unlikely. But Announcing one is probably the right thing to do, if you see what I mean.

  2. Iñaki Gabilondno certainly agrees with you, his latest video predicts “plesbicitary elections” with a majority in favour of independence

    Meanwhile the Financial Times urges the Spanish government to start some kind – any kind – of negotiation with Catalonia.

    The FT’s background to the present crisis is revealing: High quality global journalism requires investment.

    “There was enough flexibility in Spain’s quasi-federal system to accommodate the Catalans, until Mr Rajoy’s Partido Popular sabotaged it in 2010, by persuading its nominees in the Constitutional Court to strike down sensitive bits of the reformed statute of autonomy of Catalonia. Identical articles were left unmolested in the statutes of Valencia and the Balearic Islands, then under PP rule. That unleashed Catalan separatism, until then a fringe movement. The right issue on which to have a crisis is the politicisation of the judiciary – just one of Spain’s rickety institutions in need of reform.”

    This makes the FT the only foreign news source to have an accurate handle on the background to all this. Every other news source, from The Grauniad to the WSJ to the BBC sees the discontent in Catalonia primarily as economic in nature. Only the FT has recognised that the corruption and manipulation of the justice system is a stronger motivation.

    I feel sure that both you and Iñaki are correct – that the referendum will be blocked. But how? Precendent (the Ibarretxe Plan) suggests that the PP will seek immediately to criminalise those who seek the referendum.

    Ibarretxe called an election in similar circumstances and lost seats, leading to his ousting when the PP and PSOE collaborated to form the Patxi López government. This is unlikely in Catalonia, where it’s much more probable that the ERC will gain enough seats to form the next Catalan government. At that point it’s a dead cert that the PP will invoke powers to dissolve the Generalitat and the Parlament, and haul in the ERC and other leaders for internment.

    1. Sorry: this comment was pending moderation and I hadn’t noticed. Annoyingly, the sex contacts and cheap Adidas comments get through. (I removed the FT markup too).

    2. You’re probably right too. And I don’t think we can rely on anyone else intervening to resolve that situation: democracy means very little these days.

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