4 years since the 1 October Referendum
Politics 01/10/2021

The Government pledges to recover "the spirit of 1st October" after split in Parliament

President Aragonès reiterates appeal for unity on the fourth anniversary of the referendum

4 min
The president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, during the act of commemoration of the 1-O with the Government in plenary session

BarcelonaThe day after the independence movement split in Parliament in the general policy debate came the commemoration of the fourth anniversary of the Independence Referendum. The Government spoke from La Maternità in Barcelona, and it was over in five minutes. It was enough, however, to take on the commitment of avoiding a repetition of what happened yesterday in the house. Thus, the executive pledged to recover "the spirit of 1st October", that is, the unity between parties and organisations to make that vote possible. With what objective? For Catalonia to vote again in a referendum. "It is the inevitable solution," said the president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès.

The event was to be held at Barcelona's Industrial School, but in the end it had to be changed because Barcelona Provincial Council, governed by the PSC and Junts, denied it permission. All the ministers attended the event, which consisted of reading a statement. The first to speak was the vice-president, Jordi Puigneró, who attacked the State. He criticised "the obsession" it showed to prevent the referendum that was made "with the ballot boxes that some are still looking for," he stressed. For JxCat's maximum representative in the executive, the referendum was not only a "popular success", but "the founding moment of the Catalan Republic". "The seed of victory and our freedom," he proclaimed.

Aragonès was the second and last to speak and he was convinced that 1st October was a "turning point", a "point of no return" in the history of Catalonia. As in the general policy debate, he insisted once again that his government wants to "complete" the path to independence "without giving up anything". But beyond the usual proclamations on a day like today, he stressed the big problem that the independence movement currently has and which was made evident in the general policy debate – although he did not make explicit reference to it: the lack of unity and a shared project. Against this backdrop, the president remarked that the referendum "will be possible thanks to the consensus between political parties and social movements" and that now it is time to recover that path. "We only move forward when we generate great consensus," he said.

The roadmap

The Government considers itself as the "heir of 1st October" but, indirectly, admits that that vote was not enough to achieve independence. Faced with this fact, the president has assured that "Catalonia will vote again". He has not said when or how, but yesterday's debate in Parliament already resolved these questions. There are no pre-established deadlines, despite the CUP's displeasure that its proposal to reattempt a unilateral referendum before the next elections was rejected. On the how, trying a negotiation with the State through the dialogue table to achieve an agreed referendum, despite the fact that again the CUP and in this case also JxCat are skeptical. The Government's statement has pointed out the only thing that right now all pro-independence groups agree on: unity must be recovered.

Joint photo

The pro-independence parties have set aside their differences today and staged a joint photo to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the referendum in front of the Ramon Llull School, where police charges took place four years ago. The main leaders of the formations have claimed the spirit of 1-O and have bet not to falter on the road to achieve the independence of Catalonia. Speaker Laura Borràs said that "voting never divides" and that "a referendum strengthens us because voting only hurts those who do not value democracy". She wants 1 October to be remembered because "there is no way back". "October 1st was made with unity, generosity, trust, hope and faith in a better future. Let's keep it in mind because there is no way back, we can only go forward," Borràs concluded.

ERC president Oriol Junqueras highlighted the "communion" experienced on October 1st and recommended "persisting" to achieve it. The leader of the Republicans described 1st October as "a victory of democracy against a repression that has not ended and in which many of us put the collective before our individual freedom" in reference to the imprisonment of members of the then Catalan Government as well as the main leaders of pro-independence organisations.

The secretary general of JxCat, Jordi Sànchez, remarked that 1st October was possible because there was "a deep communion between society and institutions", who understood that "only together did they have the ability to become free" in a call for unity. "We must design a shared space and a unique strategy" and do it again "well and better," he added. Sànchez also stressed that they do not commemorate the 1-O "to keep in a showcase or to pay tribute to it up on a pedestal", but for "project it onto the present with the same commitment towards the future". The CUP's Dolors Sabater gave 1st October as an example and the strike two days later as "the compass to make independence effective" and warned against being drawn in "by autonomic stabilisation". "Sovereigntism has recovered the strategy," she claimed before again demanding a second referendum on the same date as Scotland's.

The first to intervene was the president of Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Cuixart, who said 1st October was a "collective conquest" that "speaks to everyone". It was also announced that a petition before the courts so the Professional Union of Police is dismissed as a prosecuting party in the court case over the Referendum. "We are presenting this demand because the State continues to accuse the victims and does not recognise the violence exercised by the police. We demand reparations so people may be held to account," he explained.

The president of the ANC, Elisenda Paluzie, said that, despite the division over the strategic differences among pro-independence parties which has become evident in Parliament this week, the message is optimistic: "It is possible to find elements in all proposals towards a path of victory against the State that combines democratic confrontation with international legitimacy and that respects the mandate of 1st October".