9 Apr, 2024 @ 09:52
2 mins read

Catalan president says an independence referendum is ‘inevitable’ during speech in Spanish parliament

CATALAN President Pere Aragones warned his political rivals that a new independence referendum was ‘inevitable’ during a speech in Spain’s parliament on Monday.

Addressing the Spanish senate for the first time in six months, the 41-year old former lawyer also defended the controversial amnesty law which will grant pardons to a host of pro-independence figures if approved, including Carles Puigdemont who remains a fugitive from Spanish justice for his role in the failed illegal Catalan referendum in 2017.

Aragones, who is a member of the left-wing Republican Left of Catalunya (ERC) party, sought to defend the pro-indepenence position in a 10-minute speech.

“Even if you scream a lot against it, it is inevitable”, Aragones told a crowd which included Isabel Diaz Ayuso, the Partido Popular (PP) president of Madrid.

Pere Aragones, president of Catalunya, told the Spanish senate that a new Catalan independence referendum was ‘inevitable’. Credit: Cordon Press

He added: “The Spanish state does not listen to Catalan citizens, it does not respect them”. 

He likewise criticised Spain’s ‘authoritarian’ approach to the Catalan question, suggesting that a ‘democratic approach’ to proceedings rather than ‘imposition’ would be preferible for both sides.

Members of the PP criticised Aragones speech, labelling the amnesty law, which current Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez agreed to in order to earn the votes of the Catalan separatist parties on which his coalition depends, as a ‘death sentence’ for Spain’s ‘constitutional and autonomous state’. 

“It breaks the model of 1978, breaking equality amongst Spaniards, breaking the principles of solidarity, and ceding public finances to the interests of unilateral policies”, commented Antonio Silvan, a PP senator.

Aragones’ speech in the heart of Spanish government comes in the run-up to a crucial local Catalan election which will take place on May 12.

Puigdemont, who has lived in a self-imposed exile following the failed 2017 independence bid, has announced he will stand in the regional elections for his Junts per Catalunya party.

carles puigdemont e
Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont will return for next month’s regional elections. Credit: Cordon Press

The 61-year old recently revealed that he had moved to Northern Catalonia, the historically Catalan strip of the land, north of the Pyrenees in modern-day France.

However, he confirmed that he would not return to Catalunya during the run-up to the elections, even if the amnesty law comes into effect before voting dat.

He said: “We have been working on my return for years, and it cannot be an electoral strategy, or a provocation, or a mockery”.

“I will return to Catalunya for the swearing-in ceremony. It is an action for the country, not partisan, outside the electoral context and with institutional spirit”, he told the RAC1 radio in an interview. 

On Monday, Puigdemont’s centre-right Junts party asked the public broadcaster, TV3, to hold the electoral debate in Perpignan, France, so that the separatist leader could attend without fear of arrest – however, it is unlikely that the proposal will succeed.

Meanwhile, Puigdemont has been called to testify on terrorism charges in Spain’s Supreme Court as part of an investigation into his and MP Ruben Wagensberg’s involvement with the pro-independence protest group Tsunami Democratic.

The judge investigating the case has asked the former Catalan president to appear voluntarily on June 17 via videolink. 

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Ben Pawlowski

Ben joined the Olive Press in January 2024 after a four-month stint teaching English in Paraguay. He loves the adrenaline rush of a breaking news story and the tireless work required to uncover an eye-opening exclusive. He is currently based in Barcelona from where he covers the city, the wider Catalunya region, and the north of Spain. Send tips to [email protected]

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