05.05.2017 - 17:37
The Catalan Government is taking the first steps to buying the ballot boxes for the independence referendum, CNA has learned. The executive is about to publish an announcement in the Catalan Government Official Journal that invites companies to bid to supply the ballot boxes. Catalonia is expected to need 8,000 ballot boxes for its independence referendum, which the government wants to celebrate in the autumn with or without permission from the Spanish State. Companies will have 15 days to show their interest in providing the ballot boxes once the offer is officially published, something that is expected to happen in the next few days. According to the Catalan Vice President, Oriol Junqueras, buying the ballot boxes shows the government’s “commitment” to the referendum.
Sources from the Catalan government explained to the CNA that the agreement will allow the executive to contract the provision of ballot boxes for any kind of electoral process, including consultations or participatory activities. The Government argues that buying the ballot boxes is within the law, as Catalonia has the power to organize electoral processes.
The Catalan Vice President, Oriol Junqueras, said that the announcement is a “clear signal” of the executive’s “commitment” to holding an independence referendum. “We are totally committed to our democratic mandate,” he said in comments to the press from New York, where he is on an official trip. The Vice President added that both the Government and the Catalan Parliament are doing “all that is needed” to fulfill their mandate to allow the Catalan people to have a say about their future.
The Spanish government’s delegate in Catalonia, Enric Millo, criticized the Catalan government for “wasting money” on “useless” things such as ballot boxes for a referendum that “will not happen”. “Using public money, money that belongs to all of us, for an unnecessary and useless activity that will not happen is clearly a very bad way of managing money,” he said. “Public money should be used to respond to the needs of the Catalan people, not wasted,” he added, pointing out that the Catalan government is behaving “erratically”.
The governing coalition Junts pel Sí, with the support of the radical-left CUP, wants to hold an independence referendum in autumn. The Catalan government has repeatedly said that it prefers to organize the vote in agreement with the Spanish executive. However, so far the Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government has refused to negotiate a vote, arguing that it would be “illegal” under the Spanish Constitution. The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, said recently he would send a “final proposal” to Madrid in the next few weeks. If rejected again, Catalonia will go ahead with the referendum as planned, even if this means heading into a frontal confrontation with the Spanish government.
The Spanish government already sent former Catalan President, Artur Mas, and two of his ministers, Irene Rigau and Joana Ortega, to court for organizing a non-official vote on independence in 2014. They were convicted of disobedience and have been banned from holding public office. The Catalan Parliament Bureau, led by Speaker Carme Forcadell, will also face court next week for allowing a resolution about the independence roadmap to be debated and voted on in the chamber. Other Catalan politicians that have defied the Spanish government on independence are facing similar trials. The Spanish government has warned that it will use all the means at its disposal to avoid an independence vote in September such as the one being now organized by Puigdemont and his government.