Republican Left leader calls for civil disobedience if Catalan vote is vetoed

Party chief Oriol Junqueras invokes Martin Luther King and offers to join regional government

ERC leader Oriol Junqueras supports civil disobedience against Madrid.
ERC leader Oriol Junqueras supports civil disobedience against Madrid.ALBERT GARCIA

The head of the Republican Left of Catalonia party (ERC), which supports independence for the northeastern Spanish region, on Monday defended the need for “civil disobedience” should the central government veto a referendum on secession that has been scheduled for November 9.

Oriol Junqueras of ERC also said that his party is willing to join the regional government to provide extra support in order to ensure that the vote takes place as planned.

We need to say we’re going to vote, and  we will do everything in our power to win” Oriol Junqueras of ERC

Premier Artur Mas, of the nationalist bloc CiU, was the first to introduce the notion of a regional referendum on self-rule, but internal support has begun to waver as the date approaches and legal concerns arise. Last month, a government official suggested that the vote could be postponed if the Constitutional Court deems it illegal. Madrid said it will appeal the referendum before this tribunal.

“We will defend the Constitution, the unity of Spain and the law,” said Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Monday. “There will be no referendum. The law will prevail. The government has all necessary measures ready in case anyone tries to hold an illegal referendum.”

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But as CiU’s position becomes more shaky, the left-leaning ERC is upping the tone of its statements. Asked by Catalunya Ràdio whether his party would support civil disobedience if the referendum is ultimately deemed unlawful, Junqueras replied: “Absolutely! Absolutely! Just like Martin Luther King.

“What’s at stake here for us are fundamental rights,” added Junqueras, who hopes that other left-leaning parties such as ICV-EUiA will join his call for civil disobedience. “We cannot give the Spanish government incentives just because it is not letting us vote; on the contrary, what we need to do is to say that we’re going to vote, and that we will do everything in our power to win.”

These statements come just two days before Catalonia Day, a regional celebration that secessionists hope to use as a showcase for their aspirations. More than 53 demonstrations are planned in the region for September 11.

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