HAMMERING home the point that Madrid has left them with no alternative, top officials in the Catalan government have professed their plans to fashion a new, independent state, with or without Spain’s approval.
President of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell, and minister of foreign affairs, Raul Romeva, pointed to recent invective and ongoing obstinacy as evidence that dealing with Madrid is a fool’s errand and it is time for Catalonia to press ahead with its own future.
“We have always said that we would have preferred a Scottish-type scenario, where we could negotiate with the state and hold a coordinated and democratic referendum. We keep talking to Madrid, but all we get back from them is an echo,” said Romeva.
Forcadell has expressed outrage that a taped conversation of Spanish interior minister, Jorge Fernandez Diaz, allegedly conspiring to launch false investigations against Catalan politicians in favour of independence, was ignored by the Rajoy government and national media.
“How can they say that when the interior minister, who’s meant to defend the interests of all citizens, is caught conspiring to find evidence against citizens solely because they think differently? How can absolutely nothing come of that? We don’t understand it,” she said.
Both politicians belong to the Together For Yes coalition which swept to power in September on a broad pro-independence platform and has already begun developing necessary structures, including a foreign affairs ministry and skeleton social security scheme, in the expectations of fast-tracking eventual independence.
A growing swell of popular and political support for a genuine independence referendum in Catalonia has been steadfastly rejected by Madrid, which is adamant that the constitution makes the very prospect of secession an illegal pipedream unworthy of serious political discussion.
Acting prime minister Mariano Rajoy has pledged to use “all political and judicial mechanisms in defence of the common good and the sovereignty of Spain as laid down in the constitution,” whereas Romeva and other pro-independence campaigners believe the law needs to adapt to reflect changing circumstances and the popular will.
“I’m being very careful with my words: it’s legitimate and it’s not illegal. It’s true that the constitution says what it says. But constitutions are texts that exist to serve a particular moment in history and certain circumstances,” she argued.
In 2014 an informal referendum saw roughly 80 per cent in favour of Catalonian independence but the poll was boycotted by pro-unity parties and candidates and largely considered a public relations exercise drawing attention to the cause.
In reality opinion is largely split with an estimated 47.7 per cent of Catalans in favour of breaking away according to the latest poll, which gave independence its strongest support yet, surpassing the ‘remainer’ vote for the first time at 42 per cent.