The mandate to make Catalonia an independent state has been acknowledged, but the declaration of independence is postponed.
This is the summary of Carles Puigdemont's most important speech. With a one hour delay due to last-minute discrepancies with the CUP --who didn't applaud his speech--, Puigdemont asked the plenary session to temporarily suspend Article 4.4 of the Referendum Law --which calls for a unilateral declaration of independence in the event of a Yes win-- so as to make a final offer of dialogue to the Spanish government, as the international community has called for.
Puigdemont addressed the plenary session to call for a temporary suspension of the effects of the declaration of independence and undertake "dialogue without which it will be impossible to reach a negotiated solution". It is a request that, he explained, is motivated by messages received from the international community asking him to open a period of dialogue with Spain.
This is why Puigdemont --who just today received a stern warning from Donald Tusk, President of the European Council-- asked the EU "to get deeply involved" in what is happening in Catalonia. "If in the next few days everyone acts with the same responsibility, the conflict between Catalonia and Spain can be resolved in a calm, negotiated manner", he stated in the final moments of his speech.
The President, then, is seeking to gain time to shore up international support and prevent the Catalan government from losing the international sympathy earned by the independence movement since October 1st. Now that the international community is paying close attention to what is happening in Catalonia, Puigdemont understands that a new refusal by Rajoy to sit down and talk will benefit the cause of independence. Even if the application of the declaration of independence --and the entry into force of the Law of Transitional Legality-- is suspended for now, Puigdemont noted that "October 1st is a pivotal date that marks a milestone". "We have arrived at this historic moment, and I assume the mandate of the people of Catalonia to create an independent state in the form of a republic", said Puigdemont, who said that the mandate stems from the September 27, 2015 elections and is reaffirmed by the results of October 1st.
In a speech in which he appealed repeatedly to the responsibility of everyone and stressed the need to "reduce the tension" generated in Catalonia, he said, following the police repression on October 1st. Puigdemont addressed the 7.5 million Catalans --also to those who demonstrated on Sunday for Spanish unity-- to defend the need to preserve "democracy and peace" despite not being in agreement on all points. "I will always act with all 7.5 million Catalans in mind", he said.
In fact, Puigdemont even delivered part of his speech in Spanish in order to address the citizens of the rest of Spain, to whom he said that, despite what Spanish media has said, Catalans are not "delinquents, crazy, abducted, or staging a coup". What has happened, said Puigdemont, is that there is a desire by a majority to change "a relationship that isn't working" and which has become "unsustainable".
An hour's delay due to differences with the CUP
Puigdemont's speech started an hour later than planned, and was preceded by moments of tension and nervousness due to differences with the CUP over the final wording of Puigdemont's declaration. The CUP didn't like the point that "freezes" article 4.4 of the Referendum Law --which calls for the declaration of independence of Catalonia in the case of a victory for "Yes".
Government sources explained that the President's speech seeks, especially, to keep open any doors with Europe on the same day that Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, called on Puigdemont to avoid any measures that would make dialogue difficult. In fact, according to what sources within the Presidency said to CNA (Catalan News Agency), one of the motives for temporarily postponing the debate was the arrival of an offer of international mediation.
During this delay, JxSí and the CUP met in the former's offices, a meeting from which CUP members emerged saying that the negotiation was going well. In fact, anti-capitalist sources explained that they received the final proposal from Puigdemont just one hour before the scheduled starting time for the plenary session, so they needed more time to study it.