Although events occurred in reverse order, after yesterday’s intense hours we can succinctly say that Catalonia has signed its Declaration of Independence but it has been put on hold with aims to keep the door open to a negotiation with Spain and the process now continues in Madrid, where today the government of Spain will decide whether or not to apply Article No. 155
By: Beñat Zaldua / The Dawn News / October 11, 2017
Puigdemont’s speech wasn’t what the thousands of Catalans outside the doors of the Parlament were waiting to hear. Nor what the left-wing, independentist CUP and some members of the Republican Left (ERC) were expecting. Yesterday’s was a chaotic session which we must analyze after a cold shower. At the very least.
All in all, the picture that sums up the the day is of the deputies of Junts Pel Sí and the CUP signing a Declaration of Independence—which Puigdemont left on hold in order to explore a mediation with Spain.
The sequence of events, however, was in reverse order, which confused things notably. Puidgemont’s solemn speech was scheduled for 6 pm. One hour before, he sent the text to the independentist caucus (not only the CUP) and the alarms rang for those who expected the proclamation of the Catalan Republic in full effect. Last-minute negotiations began, with long faces and generalized stress.
Finally, it was no sooner than at 7 pm that Puigdemont took the stand. His speech had two key elements, which were side by side. The first one: “At this historical moment as the President of Catalonia, I want to follow the people’s will for Catalonia to become an independent state”. The second: “With the same solemnity, the government and myself propose that the parliament suspends the effects of the declaration of independence so that in the coming weeks we may begin a dialogue without which it is impossible to arrive at an agreed solution.”
Some will take out their microscopes and scalpels to open up these words in search of their true meaning, but sometimes it’s best to keep things simple: Puigdemont didn’t declare independence, he simply committed to it, and prioritized leaving the door open to a mediation that he affirmed is underway. That was the main demand that Europe was making: don’t make an unilateral declaration of independence (DUI). Puigdemont didn’t do it.
Nevertheless, he requested the Parliament to suspend the declaration of independence. What declaration? Where was it? One story below, in the Parlament’s auditorium. There, deputies of Junts pel Sí and the CUP signed a text. The operative part begins like this: “We constitute the Catalan Republic as an independent and sovereign State, of the rule of law, democratic and social”. Nothing more, nothing less.
But by the time the declaration was signed, it had already been stripped of any practical or juridical validity, which was met with discontent among independentists. However, the session in the Parlament had already ended, so there was no room for the attempts of filibustering that surely would have made the session even more chaotic.
To sum up, the final situation after yesterday’s events, despite last-minute surprises, is not that different from what was expected as the day began: a Declaration of Independence without immediate juridical effects which remains paused until international mediation manages to activate some sort of dialogue. It’s what media calls “the Slovenian way”. The Govern doesn’t want to lose the political capital it accumulated on 1-O, both internally and externally—that’s why they bet on this option. It can cause internal problems, as seen yesterday, but it manages to skilfully place the pressure of international attention on the roof of La Moncloa.
And now what?
The most controversial point, is probably the vague time framework that Puigdemont established for the negotiation attempt: “a few weeks”. This was controversial for both anti-independentists, like the ANC and Omnium Cultural, and independentists like the CUP, who demanded Puigdemont to set a deadline for the period of openness to international mediation. The Assembly and the Omnium didn’t set a preferred period, but the CUP went a step ahead and demanded that it doesn’t last over a month. If after a month dialogue hasn’t begun, the declaration should be validated and put into practice by the Parlament, the CUP said.
The former deputy of the CUP, Qim Arrufat, confessed yesterday there was a state of “generalized confusion” after a plenary that wasn’t “as expected”. “One hour before, they changed the entire script”, he explained, and informed his party doesn’t condone the suspension of the Declaration. The proclamation of the Republic “is and was the only instrument that allows us to negotiate equal-to-equal”, he analyzed, explaining that the next Consell Politic will debate whether the CUP will abandon “ordinary Parliamentary activity”.
“The chain of trust with Puigdemont has been damaged—not broken, but damaged”, Arrufat said. The CUP was hurt yesterday due to Puigdemont’s lack of communication and due to the last-minute changes, due, according to the Govern, to last-minute offers of negotiation. In the following days, we will see whether those promises were true. All in all, yesterday the Parlament seemed to have forgotten at times that, probably, the organism who is going to decide on the validity of the step they took yesterday is the Spanish state. If it announces the application of Article 155, yesterday’s bet will have been the best possible road.
Operative part of the Declaration of Independence
“WE CONSTITUTE the Catalan Republic as an independent and sovereign State, of the rule of law, democratic and social.
“WE ORDER the implementation of the Law of Juridical and Foundational Transitivity of the Republic.
“WE INITIATE the democratic, grassroot, transversal, participative and binding Constitutive process.
“WE AFFIRM the will to open negotiations with the Spanish state, with no prior conditions, in benefit of both parts. The negotiations must necessarily be carried out in a spirit of equality.
“WE BRING TO THE NOTICE of the international community and EU authorities the constitution of the Catalan Republic and the proposals to negotiate with the Spanish State.
“WE ENCOURAGE the international community and the EU authorities to intervene to stop the ongoing vulneration of civil and political rights, and to follow the process of negotiation with the Spanish State and act as witnesses.
“WE MANIFEST our will to build a European project that reinforces social and democratic rights for citizens, as well as our commitment to continue to apply, without solution of continuity and in a unilateral manner, the juridic norms of the European Union and the laws for the Spanish State and the Autonomic Catalan state that derive from them.
“WE AFFIRM that Catalonia has the unequivocal will to join the international community as quickly as possible. The new State commits to respecting the international obligations that are currently applicable to its territory and to continue to be a part of the international treaties currently subscribed by the Kingdom of Spain.
“WE CALL the states and international organizations to acknowledge the Republic as an independent and sovereign state.
“WE ENCOURAGE the Govern of the Generalitat to adopt the necessary measures to enable the full effectiveness of this Declaration of Independence and of the previsions of the Law of Juridic Transitivity.
“WE MAKE a calling to each and every one of the citizen of the Catalan Republic to make ourselves worthy of the freedom we have taken and to build a State that translates our collective aspirations into reality.
“The legitimate representatives of the people of Catalonia”