Catalonia is to hold a referendum on independence in a year’s time in a move that will infuriate Madrid but which should also return power to the pro-indy campaign in the regional assembly. President Carles Puigdemont told the Catalan Parliament yesterday: “We will look for an agreement (with central government) until the very end, we will at every moment work with the will to hold a referendum in agreement with the state.
“But if we come to the end of our term in office and there has been no positive response, we will be ready to... call a referendum for the second half of September of next year.”
A pro-independence coalition ruling Catalonia had approved an 18-month roadmap to independence after winning a majority in last year’s regional elections.
Under that plan their goal would be achieved by the middle of next year, but ideological differences have hindered any progress. Then, in June, the coalition broke down when the far-left Popular Unity Party (CUP) refused to back the government’s 2016 budget. This forced Puigdemont to call a vote of confidence.
The CUP then said it would help bring the coalition back together and would vote for the President, but only in exchange for a Scotland-style referendum.
Puigdemont told Catalan MPs: “The state cannot govern with its back to Catalonia, so it’s necessary that there be a solution. The state is clearly gone from bad to worse. This has many consequences: uncertainty, even in business, which the Catalan independence process does not.
“When I was made President, the Spanish state had caretaker government; nine months later, they still do.
“This is how we’ll resolve Catalans’ demands: either with a referendum or with a referendum.”
However, Puigdemont said that to move forward, he needed lawmakers to renew their confidence in the government before the poll could be held in the second half of September next year.
And, anticipating the fury from the central government in Madrid, he added: “We will leave options open till the last minute. But if we cannot hold a referendum in agreement with the state, we will hold one anyway. This is the choice: or referendum or referendum.”
The president said he would accept responsibility for what he said was a commitment for the entire government. “We can discuss this all fully, and we all can benefit. Even those who think it’s so funny to listen to demands of two million Catalans,” he said.
Puigdemont added that he was not asking Spain’s acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy for permission, but “the entire Spanish political system”. He added that there's is a recognition of Catalonia’s demands if there is to be a solution to this problem