Catalan government to press ahead with referendum despite Socialists’ cold feet

Ruling CiU group proposes independent assessment of Socialists' proposals

The Catalan regional government on Tuesday reiterated its commitment to a referendum on self-determination despite the doubts of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), which broadly supports the initiative but proposes constitutional reform to allow the poll to go ahead, or an agreement with the central government as to its legitimacy.

“We will not divert from the path because the PSC blows hot and cold,” said chief spokesman for the nationalist CiU-run regional government, Francesc Homs.

The regional premier, Artur Mas, convened his administration on Tuesday to hammer out a road map toward a referendum. A day earlier at a cross-party conference, the PSC said it would distance itself from the bid if CiU failed to stop setting up so-called “state structures.” The Socialists feel that such initiatives show that the CiU and its parliamentary partner, the nationalist leftist ERC, believe that not only will a referendum be held, but that the pro-sovereignty vote will prevail.

PSC leader Pere Navarro termed the CiU’s current stance “a partisan independentist process by installments.”

At Monday’s meeting, CiU offered a concession by suggesting the Advisory Council for National Transition, a board of academics and intellectuals charged with examining the legal and political avenues toward a referendum, study the federal alternative put forward by the PSC.

“We have to get used to the fact that the PSC will come and go. They have a very complex position and what we, collectively as a country, cannot do is wait for them to resolve their internal situation; we have to continue on the path. The PSC has being toing and froing and what we want to do is make it easy for them.”

After a congressional vote held in March, PSC deputies were fined by the national Socialist Party apparatus for backing Mas’s sovereignty drive. However, Navarro told the regional assembly that his party does not want independence for Catalonia, but rather a federal state.

National deputy for Barcelona, Carme Chacón, who abstained from that vote, wrote a letter to Navarro lamenting his attendance at Monday’s meeting. The PSC called the missive “very inopportune.” Undeterred, Chacón on Tuesday said that “all Socialists should oppose Artur Mas.”