Carles Puidgemont, the president of the Catalan government, has confirmed that his administration will declare independence from Spain following a controversial referendum held on October 1st. The referendum was ruled illegal by Spain’s Constitutional Court.
In an address to the Catalan parliament, which was scheduled for 6 p.m. but was delayed to 7 p.m. due to disagreements between members of the government coalition, Puidgemont said that the October 1st independence referendum has given his administration a mandate to proclaim Catalonia’s independence from Spain, but he asked parliament to defer the proclamation to seek mediation with Madrid.
“I accept the mandate of the people that Catalonia shall become an independent State with a Republican form of government,” Puidgemont told parliament, adding that “the referendum law says that once a ‘yes’ vote has prevailed parliament shall meet to declare independence.”
Puidgemont was referring to the referendum law passed by the Catalan parliament on September 7. The law was suspended by Spain’s Constitutional Court hours later. The Catalan government defied the court ruling.
Puidgemont disappointed hard-line separatists by deferring the proclamation of an independent state, saying that his administration will seek a mediation with the Spanish authorities.
“This is what we are doing today with great solemnity, and with the same solemnity we propose that parliament suspend the declaration of independence in order to seek dialogue to reach an agreed solution.”
The president said that “there are many serious proposals for mediation, some of which were hard to imagine just a short time ago.” However, he did not disclose further details.
The Catalan parliament is almost evenly split between supporters of independence and supporters of unity with Spain.
Ines Arrimadas, member of the opposition party ‘Ciudadanos’ (Citizens), criticized Puidgemont’s speech.
“[Our] party has been saying for 11 years that you stand for nationalism. No one in Europe supports you because nationalism is the antithesis of the European project,” she said. “I advise you to listen to Macron, Juncker, Valls, because you are alone.”
After Puidgemont’s speech members of his coalition signed a unilateral independence declaration. Lawmakers of the Popular Unity Candidacy (Catalan: Candidatura d’Unitat Popular, CUP) and Together For Yes (Junts Pel Si) proclaimed the founding of the Republic of Catalonia.
“The Catalan nation, its language and culture are a thousand years old,” the text says. “Catalonia today restores its full sovereignty … after decades of honest and loyal attempts at institutional co-existence with the peoples of the Iberian peninsula.”
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