The referendum is both Plan A and Plan B. While expressing her gratitude towards the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) for including a unilateral declaration of independence in its roadmap, should Madrid decide to physically prevent the referendum, this Tuesday the Minister of the Presidency and Government Spokeswoman, Neus Munté, stressed that the Catalan government still plans to hold a referendum no later than the second half of September. “The priority is to hold the referendum and for its outcome to be legally binding”, she cautioned.
Nevertheless, Munté refused to give details on the Catalan government’s final attempt to obtain a negotiated referendum with the Spanish state. During last Saturday’s General Assembly of the ANC, President Carles Puigdemont announced that in the coming weeks he intends to mount a final effort to reach an agreement before choosing the unilateral route —by announcing the date and the question for the referendum before the summer break—.
As for Catalunya Sí que es Pot’s appeal for the unilateral referendum to be endorsed by the Venice Commission, Munté argued that the government is still in a preliminary stage because it is hoping for a negotiated referendum in spite of the repeated refusal of Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. However, she called on the Comuns (the federalist left) to be “as demanding” of the Spanish government as it is of the Catalan government.
Following Europa Press’ surprise revelation that Catalonia’s Office for National Statistics (CEO) will be conducting a survey that asks “to what extent is it important to always obey laws and rules”, Munté tried to play down the controversy. She stressed that at no point was it the government’s intention to “call for disobedience” by asking such a question.
The minister recalled that the CEO asked this very same question in 2011 and even Madrid’s Centre for Sociological Research (CIS) included a similar one in 2004.
Restructuring the Vice-president’s office
The government stated that next week it will be supporting the Speaker of the Catalan Parliament Carme Forcadell, and the four members of the Parliamentary Bureau who are due to appear before the High Court of Justice of Catalonia. In addition, this Tuesday it announced changes to be made in another sensitive area of the executive which has been affected by the judicialisation.
The executive branch has approved a restructuring of the Ministry of the Vice-presidency and of the Economy and Finance with the appointment of David Canada as Director of the General Accounting Office, a newly created post which aims to “improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the control of public funds”.
Munté denied that this appointment is related to the independence process, although it is a sensitive area and, in effect, the creation of the post means placing a politician above civil servants and senior officials who have already been warned by the Spanish Constitutional Court, as is the case with the Catalan government’s Comptroller General, Rosa Vidal.