The Spanish Congress last night rejected a bill proposed by the Parliament of Catalonia that would have transferred the authority to call a referendum on self-determination for Catalonia to the regional Parliament. Upon receiving the news, the President of the Generalitat, Artur Mas, immediately stressed that despite the bill's rejection, "the path will continue onward
"Everything does not end here, not by a long shot," said the chief executive, who pointed out that although the proposed bill "was very important, and we had hoped that it would turn out better," this by no means exhausts the possibility of a referendum. From here on, President Mas affirmed, "Catalan government institutions will seek to build a legal framework to hold the referendum and give a voice, and a vote, to the people of Catalonia."
The path forward, he underlined, will continue "without losing sight of how both the Catalan political representatives and the Catalan people comported themselves today: dignified, positive, constructive, enthusiastic, democratic and peaceful."
With today serving as an example, the President also stressed that Catalonia’s path was "a resounding commitment to democracy" and that Catalan government institutions, "knowing that the will of a people cannot be stopped by a vote in Congress," will continue to try to reach an agreement with the Spanish government.
"As long as the will of the people of Catalonia remains firm, civic, peaceful, and of the majority, it will continue to be expressed. I hope to fulfill my commitment to the Catalan people that their will may be expressed with normalcy at the ballot box to make one of the most important decisions made by any people: the shape of its own political future, not only in the short term, but also in the long term," reaffirmed Mas.
In the official statement made from the Gothic Gallery of the Palace of the Generalitat, the President lamented that "today an opportunity has been lost" by the large statewide political parties as well as by the Spanish government. "They did not want to shake the hand that was offered to them," said Mas, who added that for the Catalan people "there was a willingness to negotiate and reach an agreement."
Despite the majority vote against the bill in the Spanish Congress, the President noted that "our hand is still extended for the time being with the goal of reaching an agreement" if there is "any change" in the stances of either the statewide parties or the Spanish government.
However, Artur Mas also made clear that the attitude of Spanish political forces continues to be "a 'no' to everything," pointing to the fact that they have "not even allowed the bill to follow the legislative course."
"They could have said 'yes,' but they did not want to, and I am truly sorry about that," said the President, who is convinced that they "have made a mistake, and time will demonstrate this." He asserted that a 'yes' vote would have been possible because "there was sufficient legal framework" for the bill to move forward, "even in line with the Constitution." The problem, said Mas, was a "lack of political will."
After following the debate in Congress, the President of the Government wanted to "warmly congratulate" the Catalan MPs who spoke in favor of the bill, commending them for conveying "a positive image of our country and of our government institutions."
In his speech, Artur Mas praised the MPs’ "polite and constructive tone," noting that "not only did they make a clear case, but they did so with respect and good manners."
President Mas also wanted to "acknowledge the support" of all "the political parties that tendered a 'yes' vote" in favor of moving the bill forward, especially those political parties from outside of Catalonia.