Today the Catalan Parliament has admitted a popular referendum initiative to organise a referendum of independence. Two proposals were made using the recently approved “popular consultations” law which allows the Catalan Government to organise referendums. There’s a catch though, before taking place the referendum has to be approved by the Spanish Parliament .
There were two proposals sent to the Catalan Parliament a few days ago, the first one, submitted by David Vinyals and other members of Reagrupament, just asked the same question that has been voted in the popular referendums for independence “Do you want the Catalan nation to become a state of right, independent, democratical and social within the European Union?” This initiative has been rejected by the Parliament since the question does not abide to the Spanish constitution, where secession is not comtemplated.
The one formulated by Alfons López Tena and Uriel Bertran has been admitted: “So that the Catalan Parliament takes the necessary measures to make effective popular will, do you want the Catalan nation to become a state of right, independent, democratical and social within the European Union?” which basically is abiding to the Spanish constitution since the Catalan Parliament has the right to initiate constitutional amendments.
In any case, even though I support this initiative since I believe we should move towards independence using every tool at our disposal I criticise this initiative for two reasons.
Firstly, by processing a referendum of independence within the Spanish legal system we are implicitly legitimizing Spanish legality. Since Spanish legality is based on the right of conquest of Spain over Catalonia and therefore illegitimate abiding to the Spanish system we are implicity legitimizing the current situation. Not a good idea.
Secondly, since it is a popular initiative the organisers now need to gather 220.000 signatures, which is 3% of the population of Catalonia, the Parliament won’t debate the approval of the initiative until this requirement is fulfilled and this will take until after the elections. If the debate took place right now and the initiative was rejected by the current parties voters would be able to change their vote so that the new Parliament approves a new referendum initiative right after the elections. Otherwise we may have to wait 4 more years.
Finally, the strategy is so that if the Catalan parties finally approve the referendum they’ll have to ask permission to Spain. Spain will never allow this. This will create a conflict of legitimacies that would effectively allow the Generalitat to organise the referendum anyway based on the right of self-determination of the nations under international supervision.
In any case, forcing all the political parties to debate about the issue is an enormous victory of Catalan independentism, we’ll see how this evolves.