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INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM

Spanish Congress refuses to hear Catalan president without a vote

The Speaker of the House, Ana Pastor, tells the Catalan president that parliamentary rules only allow him to address the Spanish chamber if the Catalan parliament submits a bill for approval and she invites him to appear before the Senate instead.

The Catalan president has had the door shut in his face by Madrid’s Congress in his wish to appear before Spain’s lawmakers to explain Catalonia’s referendum plans. Ana Pastor, the Speaker of the lower chamber, replied to president Carles Puigdemont’s letter of two weeks ago letting him know that the only way for him to appear before the deputies would be for the Catalan parliament to submit a bill, as in 2014, which would require the law to be voted on.

What’s more, choosing this path would mean that the Catalan parliament would have to pass a law and take it to the Spanish Congress, which would then have to set a date for it to be voted on. This procedure would make it impossible for the debate to be held before the planned 1 October referendum.

After denying Puigdemont the opportunity to appear before the Spanish parliament in the way he wished, as the rules don’t allow it, Ana Pastor insisted on offering the Catalan president the opportunity to appear before the Senate’s General Commission on the Autonomous Communities.
As well as replying to Puigdemont’s letter, sources have told Spain’s EFE news agency that the Speaker also spoke to him by phone. The PP leader wanted to explain the motives for her refusal to allow the head of the Catalan executive to address the Madrid chamber.

Puigdemont rejects Pastor’s two choices

Previously Puigdemont had repeatedly ruled out submitting to a vote in the Congress, as he understands that it is within the Catalan parliament’s powers to take a position on a referendum, as it has done. What’s more, the president has often emphasised that if something should be voted on in Barcelona, it’s a proposal for Catalonia from Spain which "doesn’t exist, nor is expected".

The Catalan president’s objective, then, was to appear before the deputies of Spain’s lower chamber to explain the reasons why the Catalan executive and the majority of the parliament have decided to hold a referendum on independence on 1 October.

Now that Congress has refused to hear Puigdemont unless his address is followed by a vote, government sources consulted by ARA confirmed that the Catalan president won’t accept either of the two alternatives Ana Pastor has laid on the table.

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