The Catalan Vice Presidency and Foreign Affairs ministries, under Oriol Junqueras and Raül Romeva, are to take joint responsibility for acquiring ballot boxes for the independence referendum planned for October 1. Catalan government sources said on Wednesday that the Council of Ministers will transfer responsibility for purchasing the boxes from the Ministry of Governance to the two departments next Tuesday. Catalan governance minister, Meritxell Borras, and her former Secretary General are already being investigated by the High Court of Justice in Catalonia for beginning a tender process for firms to supply the ballot boxes.
The announcement came during a lively debate in the plenary session of the Catalan Parliament on Wednesday, in which the preparations for the referendum and how it is to be carried out took center stage. During the session, the Catalan People’s Party leader, Xavier García Albiol, denounced the “poor organization of a vote that for sure will not take place,” and criticized the lack of definition about who is to take charge of organizing the vote in order to avoid responsibility for it. Albiol added that his party was looking forward to seeing who will take responsibility for the failure of the referendum. For the PP leader, the October 1 vote “is against the law, the Constitution and the Statute of Autonomy.” He also suggested that the vote could not take place, especially as “it has no institutional support, no ballot boxes, no public servants and no social support.”
Meanwhile, the Socialist leader, Miquel Iceta, asked the Catalan president not to ignore the Statute of Autonomy or to disregard the rights of the opposition, warning Puigdemont not to “place the institutions outside the rule of law.”
The spokesperson for the anti-capitalist CUP group, Benet Salellas, said that his party would give its support to whatever decision the government takes as long as it clear and for a referendum, even though it is unilateral.
Finally, the leader of the Catalan branch of Ciutadans, Inés Arrimadas, said she was convinced that her party will be able to manage the collective frustration after October 1, when it becomes clear that there will be no referendum nor independence, and she confirmed that her group will be ready for the regional elections that follow.
There were also reactions on the matter from Spanish politicians on Wednesday. Arrimades’ national counterpart and head of the Spanish Ciudadanos party, Albert Rivera, called on Spanish President Mariano Rajoy to act. “I will feel better if Rajoy promises to do the opposite as on November 9,” he said, referring to the non-binding vote in 2014 that was declared illegal by the Constitutional Court, despite attracting a turnout of more than 2.3 million voters who voted 80% in favor of independence.
Rivera made his declarations in the Spanish Parliament after Rajoy had said that his government was very “calm” and would not allow a referendum that had no support. The Ciudadanos leader accused the Spanish executive of doing nothing to prevent the November 9 vote and called on the government to use of the State Prosecutor and the courts to stop the October 1 referendum.
Finally, a former Spanish Minister of Home Affairs, Jaime Mayor Oreja, expressed his concern on Wednesday about the developments in Catalonia, comparing the “project of breaking Spain” of the Basque terrorist organization ETA with the Catalan independence movement. “The ‘process’ in Catalonia is the ETA project,” he said in an interview with a Spanish newspaper. The former minister highlighted the fact that in his period of government under the People’s Party they managed to “end this movement thanks to the strength of the rule of law.”
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