On the fourth anniversary of the Referendum

2 min
The President of the Parliament, Laura Borràs, during the general policy debate

On the eve of the fourth anniversary of the Independence Referendum, Parliament approved a motion in defence of the negotiating table with the State as the best way to resolve the political conflict between Catalonia and Spain. The resolution was approved with the votes of the ERC, the PSC and En Comú and with the abstention of JxCat. This coincidence in time may be disappointing for some, but in any case it is consistent with everything that has happened in the last four years. Although with some nuances, the majority of pro-independence supporters has gone from considering the 1 October 2017 vote as a binding referendum that justified a Unilateral Declaration of Independence, to, in the words of Jordi Cuixart during the Independence bid trial, defining it as "an act of mass disobedience". This act of mass disobedience involving more than two million people has surely been the most disruptive political act of the last few decades in the Spanish state and perhaps in Europe. Four years later, however, it is clear that, despite the brutal media, political and emotional impact it had, the Referendum did not meet the necessary standards to achieve international recognition and, therefore, cannot be used to justify any democratic mandate that is externally recognised.

The paradox is that it seems that those who most believed in the vote and gave it the status of a referendum were the Spanish prosecutors and judges, who sentenced the pro-independence leaders to between 9 and 13 years in prison. Fortunately, political pressure and protests by the pro-independence movement managed to get the Spanish government to pardon them, but there is no doubt that the effects of the judicial repression that was put in place are the most bitter legacy of the referendum, a wound that is still open. Apart from this, four years later there is a certain consensus that the next referendum has to be agreed with the Spanish government, because this is the only way for it to have international recognition and all the necessary legal coverage to be able to apply the result that comes out of it. The CUP's proposal to insist on another unilateral referendum has very little support right now in Parliament, especially because it is considered that this is a path that has already been tried and that it makes no sense to simply repeat it.

This brings us back to the path of negotiation with the State, which is the one that now attracts majority support in Parliament despite dividing the pro-independence movement and the Government. Even so, it should be stressed that, just as ERC and the CUP have put their two strategies to the vote –negotiating table and a new unilateral referendum– Junts has not specified which is its chosen path beyond talking about "confrontation".

The general policy debate has also left other headlines, such as the reappearance of other axes beyond independence. For example, the motion supporting a resumption of negotiations for the extension of El Prat gained support from PSC and JxCat. And there is renewed debate on the question of when it is admissible and when it is not is admissible to expose Parliament's Bureau by proposing symbolic resolutions. This Thursday it has become clear that the president, Laura Borràs, who was very critical of her predecessor, Roger Torrent, considers that the CUP's resolution on the referendum is not sufficient reason to risk her disqualification.