THE CATALAN QUESTION

PP floats non-nationalist parties’ pact against Catalan self-rule drive

Ruling conservative group will hold a series of public events to boost standing of its leader in the region

PP secretary general María de Cospedal at a news conference on September 23.
PP secretary general María de Cospedal at a news conference on September 23.Fernando Alvarado / EFE

The ruling conservative Popular Party (PP) plans to offer a pact to non-nationalist political groups in Catalonia to counteract the current sovereignty drive in the northeast region, the secretary general of the PP, María Dolores de Cospedal, announced Monday.

De Cospedal said the move was “against initiatives that could mean the isolation of Catalonia from Spain and the European Union.”

Catalan premier Artur Mas, of the center-right nationalist CiU bloc, has called for a popular vote to allow Catalans to decide on the future of the region within Spain. Mas has been backed on the so-called “right to decide” principle by the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) and the PSC Catalan branch of the Socialist Party. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has told Mas that any plebiscite held in the region on the sovereignty issue without the central government’s consent would be in breach of the Constitution.

The PP has offered a pact to the centrist, non-nationalist Ciutadans party and possibly plans to extend this offer to Unió — a member of the CiU coalition that has shown itself to be more reticent about independence than its partner Convergència — and the PSC, which favors a reform of the Constitution to move toward a federal system that address Catalonia’s aspirations.

The Rajoy government is also planning to offer Catalonia a more favorable system of funding for the region in an effort to diffuse the nationalists’ drive. Mas had requested last year that Catalonia like the Basque Country should be in charge of its own revenue collection, but Rajoy’s refusal to bow to his demands heated nationalist sentiment in Catalonia.

De Cospedal also said the PP plans an important political event in support of Alicia Sánchez-Camacho, the leader of the Catalan branch of the conservative party, because the “political and social situation requires it.” “We will celebrate events in Catalonia, meetings with our party in the region, and forums for debate, as we have been doing,” the PP secretary general said. One of these events would be a visit to Catalonia by Rajoy.

The national committee of the PP is also planning to reinforce the party in Catalonia, with Sánchez-Camacho at its head, to counteract the erosion it has suffered in the sovereignty debate. “Catalans need a government that governs,” De Cospedal said. “A government that fights against unemployment and that works for integration, not to create division and achieve the isolation of Catalonia,” the PP’s number two said.

For her part, Sánchez-Camacho called for the creation of a platform of Catalan political parties and civil society as a whole to counteract the nationalist drive in the region, inviting both Ciutadans and Unió to join the initiative, which she said was aimed that “those that want to continue being Spanish and Catalans.”

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