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Dimecres  09.04.2014  05:53

Spanish Congress buries dialogue and pushes Catalonia toward unilateral action

Rajoy leaves no options open for negotiation on the referendum as PP, PSOE and UPyD join forces against the Catalan sovereignty process


The Spanish Congress has definitively closed the door on accepting any referendum in Catalonia. Mariano Rajoy's speech mentioned beginning a reform of the Constitution but such a reform would have to be approved by a parliamentary majority just like the one that rejected the petition of the Parliament of Catalonia today. PP (ruling Partido Popular), PSOE (Spanish Socialist Party), and UPyD joined forces once again against the Catalan sovereignty process and rejected the propostion sent by the Parliament of Catalonia which asked that powers be transferred that would allow it to hold referendums. There were 299 votes against the petition, 47 in favor and one abstention.

"You are not right. You can't open doors that don't exist," said the president of the Spanish Government, Mariano Rajoy, addressing the three Catalan Parliament representatives who had traveled to Madrid to present the case: Jordi Turull (governing CiU coalition), Marta Rovira (ERC—Catalan Republican Left) and Joan Herrera (ICV-EUiA, Greens). Rajoy brandished the Spanish Constitution in order to close the door on the referendum and said that it was precisely the Constitution that was the "authentic self-determination of Catalonia". Further, he invited "whoever wishes for Spain to be dissolved and fragmented" to undertake a reform of the Constitituion.

Rajoy made no concessions, and proposed no "third way" for Catalonia, between a referendum and the status quo. There was no offer. Just a decisive No. The only path he left was the reform of the Constitution, which would requite the same majority that today closed the door to ceding powers to holding a referendum.

"Mas and I won't be able to solve this over a cup of coffee"

The Spanish president dismissed the massive mobilizations in favor of independence, telling the Catalan representatives that it "was useless to wrap yourselves in popular demonstrations" because "some impossible things don't change even with demonstrations or plebiscites". "It's not about a question of political will, or flexibility, or finding common ground ... Mas and I can't solve this over a cup of coffeee, because we don't have the power that the Constitution denies us."

The Spanish president added: "I believe in Catalonia more than you do. I don't have to keep repeating it. I know that Catalonia exists. Catalonia wouldn't exist without the rest of Spain. I love it as I do the other communities."

He dedicated his speech to denying that there had been any discriminatory treatment of Catalonia. "It's not true that the language and culture are persecuted, nor that obstacles are put in the way of its economic development or that Catalans are not helped when they're in difficulties or when there is discriminatory treatment. It's not true that when a region, in any place, wants to leave, that a door is opened for them; it doesn't happen anywhere in the world. Don't talk to me about Scotland. Because it responds to a very different constitutional and historic situation. If they had half of the devolved powers that you have they wouldn't have taken the trouble they have."