Independence process

Comuns to endorse independence referendum, won’t call it binding

Catalunya en Comú will back the unilateral route as "an act of protest" and a form of "mobilization"

Catalunya en Comú will support the unilateral referendum as a day of mobilization and protest, but will not consider the vote to be binding. According to sources consulted by ARA, this is the scenario being currently considered by the leadership of Catalunya en Comú, the alternative left alliance between Barcelona en Comú (BComú), ICV, EUiA and Podemos’ more critical members.

From the outset the Comuns have called for the referendum to have international recognition, for it to appeal to the majority of voters and to be legally binding, though a failure to meet the three requirements would not mean they would withdraw their support. Sources close to the executive state that they will endorse the unilateral referendum as "another act of protest that will not be the last, but rather one of many more to come". The aim would be to make another "show of force to apply pressure on Madrid to seek a definitive solution". Another leader added that "this is the situation we are most comfortable with, as the meeting point between the various perspectives that exist within our party". They went on to say that "whatever happens, the process will not end with the referendum".

Catalunya en Comú’s stance is shared by the leadership of Podemos in Catalonia, who last week spoke in favour of a referendum without an agreement with Madrid, but which both parties see as a non-binding "act of mass mobilization and social empowerment", in a similar manner to how they saw the participatory process of 9-N in 2014. The left-wing alliance, led by Ada Colau and Xavier Domènech refuse to join the pro-independence bloc or to align themselves with the forces that oppose self-determination, the PSC, the PP and Ciudadanos. "We will be present in every rally, while making it clear that it is not the referendum that 80% of voters are asking for", added another source close to the Comuns, who went on to say: "We cannot disassociate ourselves from this democratic event, we will participate".

A historic leader of one of the coalition parties declared: "A referendum is a referendum. If it can’t be held it’s because the state forbids it. An alternative would be a repeat of 9-N as a mass protest to show our opposition to the state's refusal to agree to the referendum". The leader also went on to say that they could not imagine "the Comuns telling their members not to go out and vote".

Bringing the debate forward to June

Last Friday, Catalunya en Comú’s general coordinator, Xavier Domènech, announced that the coalition will announce its definitive position in relation to the unilateral referendum in the first week of July.

However, the National Pact for the Referendum’s imminent meeting and the likely announcement of the date and the exact wording of the question next week may well hasten events. In this regard, sources close to the Comuns have confirmed that the debate will be brought forward to mid-June, for when the next meeting of its executive board is scheduled. "If the Catalan government reveal the date and the question of the referendum, we can’t postpone the debate until July. We need to state our position as soon as possible".

It contrast to Podemos, whose members are in the process of voting on whether to reject the unilateral route, accept a non-binding referendum or to give it their full support, only the thirty members of Catalunya en Comú’s executive board will decide on the alliance’s ultimate position. Nevertheless, being in favour of turning out to vote does not mean that the leadership will state one way or another whether their supporters should abstain or vote for or against independence. It will be a free vote, as was the case with the alliance’s predecessors during the 9-N vote, when neither ICV nor EUiA adopted an explicit stance on the vote.

The leaders of ICV and EUiA did not disclose their position on the vote before it was held in order not to interfere, a practice that may well be repeated by the leaders of Catalunya en Comú. According to the executive, "the 600,000 votes we obtained in the last general election mean we have to be very careful because there are different points of view as to what the relationship between Catalonia and Spain ought to be".

Support from Pablo Iglesias

Last week, Podemos’ leader in Spain, Pablo Iglesias, endorsed the unilateral referendum, defining it as "a legitimate move". The leader of the purple party has always argued for the referendum without seeing it as a binding vote, since it is not the result of an agreement with the Spanish government. Catalunya en Comú is taking a similar stance, only declaring its position regarding the unilateral path once the Spanish state’s refusal to cooperate has become clear.

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