Mas unveils plans for independence “in 18 months”

Catalan MonitorFeature

Artur Mas' conference

Catalonia’s president Artur Mas yesterday unveiled new plans “to achieve independence in 18 months“. In a highly anticipated conference [live-tweeted by Liz Castro], the Catalan leader argued that Catalonia is in “the last stages of this process”, and declared that the “only tool” available to let Catalans decide their future is to call early elections.

These snap elections are poised to be held before next year’s local and state-wide elections –expected in May and December 2015, respectively–. But Mas, who has the power to dissolve the Parliament and call the vote, set one condition: that pro-independence parties, civil society organisations and respected personalities and professionals run “in a single list that clearly stands for independence, making other issues secondary”. This would transform the elections into a ‘de facto’ referendum on independence, which could be recognised as such by all the actors involved, including the international community.

The first of the steps envisaged by the Catalan premier is a round of talks among political parties and civil society organisations in order to agree on a pro-independence “unity list” –in which parties take a step back–, made by members specialising in State-building matters, who commit themselves not to take part in any further election.

Should this list secure a majority of MPs, a new executive would be formed, charged with informing the Spanish government as well as the international community about its secessionist plans, as well as working with the Parliament to start the transition towards independence, with a participatory process to draft a Catalan constitution. In Artur Mas’ words, the whole process “should be concluded by the end of 2016”, when a new election would be called to constitute the new Catalan republic, followed by an official referendum to validate the secession. In these elections, the unity list would be dissolved, and parties would now compete each for their proposals on the definitive Catalan constitution.

The media reactions

The Catalan official news agency covered the conference extensively:

ACN | Catalan President ready to call early elections to achieve independence from Spain in 18 months
Early elections should be called within the next 6 months, during which time Mas also insisted that parties have to better explain what the independent state will be like.

In a new diplomatic effort, Artur Mas publishes an op-ed at The Irish Times:

The Irish Times | Artur Mas: “Catalonia wants a definitive vote on its future in a referendum like Scotland’s”
The Spanish government tried by every means possible to scare citizens away from voting with legal threats.

Bloomberg | Catalonia’s Mas Urges Single Pro-Secession List for Election
Pro-secession parties should field a single list of candidates to increase the chance of winning an outright majority, Mas said in a speech in Barcelona last night.

Euronews | Catalonia announces new ‘independence plan’
Artur Mas has said he wants to call early regional elections, centred around the issue of independence from Spain.

The Wall Street Journal | Catalan Leader Calls for Common Front on Independence
Catalonia’s president, moving to capitalize on a recent symbolic referendum on independence, called on political and civic leaders Tuesday to unite behind a single slate of candidates

Jason Sorens, an American scholar who specialises on secession and decentralisation published a quick analysis on the Catalan president announcement:

Pileus | Catalan President Lays Out Road Map to Independence
The negotiations over a unified list will be difficult, but unless something fundamentally changes Catalan public opinion in the next few months, I now think it likely that a unified list will be formed, and new elections will be held in spring. There will be a massive “tax disobedience” campaign as independentist Catalans pay their taxes to the Catalan government rather than to Spain, and Catalonia will have passed the point of no return.

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