Catalan premier demands independence referendum

Catalonian regional president Quim Torra delivers a speech under the title 'Our moment' at the National Theater of Catalonia in Barcelona, north eastern Spain, 04 September 2018. EPA-EFE/ALEJANDRO GARCIA

Catalan premier demands independence referendum


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The Catalan President Quim Torra demanded an independence referendum on Tuesday, “without threats, without violence, without fear, without a dirty war.”

The latest Centro d’Estudis opinion poll in July shows support for Catalan independence to just under 47%.

In a speech at the Auditori in Barcelona, Torra also called on citizens to “mobilise” in a “civil and national rights” campaign in support of the secessionist movements’ leadership. He called for a march “that begins tomorrow and ends the day of the sentences.”

The new Catalan premier demanded nothing less than “absolution”; commenting on the conviction of former President Puigdemont, Torra said that calling for a vote should not be illegal in any democracy.

Torra was referring to the independence referendum called by former President Carles Puigdemont, which the Spanish Constitutional Court proclaimed illegal.

The October 2017 did not manage to secure a high turnout as police moved in to disrupt the process. Puigdemont went ahead to adopt the resulting independence vote as valid, declaring independence, leading Madrid to suspend autonomy and impose direct rule.

In the ensuing Catalan elections, pro-independence parties were returned to office.

Catalan leaders were then detained, while the former President Carles Puigdemont evades arrest in Europe. The current government has tried to de-escalate the confrontation between unionists and secessionists, moving secessionist leaders from prisons in Spain to Catalonia.

Torra claims that the mandate for independence of the October 1st, 2017 referendum is in force, but called for “an agreed, binding and internationally recognised referendum.”

On Monday Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez preemptively proposed a referendum on greater autonomy; Torra called his proposal “interesting” but went ahead to demand an independence referendum on Tuesday.

That places the Socialist minority government in a difficult spot, as it relies on autonomist support in parliament.

For the moment, the spokeswoman for the government Isabel Celaa says the government is open to talks, “but on things that unite all Catalans.” The Socialist Party is opposed to Catalan independence and the prospect of an independence referendum.

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