Friday, 19 May 2017

Spanish government invites Catalan president to present his referendum proposal before Congress


Madrid (ACN).- The Spanish government’s vice president, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, urged the Catalan government’s president, Carles Puigdemont, to outline the proposal of celebrating an agreed referendum before the Spanish Congress. She said it was an “invitation” for the “dialogue and debate to be carried out in parliament”, which, according to the Spanish vice president, would allow addressing the celebration of the referendum “where it belongs, in the chamber”. According to enz de Santamaría, her proposal makes sense because, “as of today, only Parliament can decide a matter of this nature”, whereas the Spanish government “cannot authorize nor negociate” the celebration of a referendum. 

The Spanish vice president, Soraya Sáez de Santamaría, announced her “invitation” to the Catalan president after the Council of Ministers’ meeting, in which, according to her, they analyzed a report about Puigdemont’s request to negotiate holding a referendum in Catalonia. Sáenz Santamaría insisted that her government maintains its firm position in order to “defend the unity of Spain and the national sovereignty established by the Constitution, which resides in the Spanish people”, but she urged the Catalan president, Puigdemont, to take the proposal to the Congress, which “is the appropriate place to present these kinds of requests”. “We invite the Catalan government’s president to open a dialogue and democratically debate the proposal in the legally expected way and in the ideal place: the nation’s Parliament,” she said. 

Sáenz de Santamaría committed herself to collaborating with the Catalan president so the Congress can address Puigdemont’s proposal “in the most flexible way”. The aim, according to her, is that Congress deal with a proposal that the Spanish government is unable to negotiate, but that can be discussed in the Spanish chamber. “We consider that Puigdemont has to turn to Congress to present his proposal within the setting of our democratic rules,” she said, because “this is a matter, which the Spanish people have to debate. And if they were to consider that the constitutional legal framework could include proposals of this nature, the Congress should accept them.”

In this way, the Spanish executive sides with what the Senate already answered the Catalan president in March, when he asked for a room at the Chamber to hold a conference on the Catalan referendum. Back then, the Senate’s bureau, in which the Spanish conservative people’s party (PP) has absolute majority, turned down his petition and invited him to appear before the Commission of the Autonomous Communities, a proposal the Catalan president declined. “The government cannot negotiate nor authorize it, but since within our constitutional set of laws any proposal can be debated and any aspect can be modified in our constitutional order, Mr. Puigdemont can use the tools of democratic procedure to ask for and achieve what he wishes,” stated Sáenz de Santamaría.

This time the proposal urges Puigdemont to present the necessary legal changes before the Congress to make the referendum viable within the Spanish constitutional framework. The question is which formula the Catalan president could apply to make a proposal to the chamber, since the situation is different from 2014, when representatives of the former Catalan parliament asked for a transfer of the State’s legal authority to call referendums to the Catalan government. Back then, the proposal was declined by the majority of the Spanish chamber.

Mariano Rajoy’s executive will not attend the conference on Monday

Sáenz de Santamaría also confirmed that her executive “will not attend” the conference given by Carles Puigdemont, Vice President, Oriol Junqueras, and Raül Romeva, which will be held on Monday at Madrid’s town hall. “The question is if Puigdemont agrees to play by the democratic rules, which means presenting his proposal before the Congress,” said Sáenz de Santamaría. In this context, the Spanish vice president avoided mentioning the Popular Party’s campaign against the Catalan president’s conference. Regarding the cession of the town hall’s auditorium Caja de Música for Puigdemont’s conference, Sáenz de Santamaría added “given that Mrs. Carmena did not debate the issue at the town council’s plenary session, everyone is free to think what they want”.

No meeting in sight

The Spanish vice president also confirmed that there is no meeting planned between the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, and the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy. However, both leaders are likely to attend a conference on economics in Sitges, near Barcelona.

PSOE, Ciutadanos (C’s) and the Catalan Socialists (PSC) knew of the Spanish proposal 

Sources in the central government explained after the press conference that the management board of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), the leader of Ciutadanos (C’s), Albert Rivera, as well as the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) knew about the proposal that Sáenz Santamaría would make Puigdemont this Friday. The Spanish government did not inform the Catalan government about this offer beforehand, claiming that members of the Spanish government had not been informed about the Catalan president’s conference beforehand either. The same sources also confirmed that the Spanish government’s proposal was discussed at length in the Council of Ministers.

  • Soraya

  • Spanish VP, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, addressing the media (by ACN)