Jordi Solé i Ferrando, MEP, OPINION
Those who would deny Catalonia’s right to self-determination said back in 2015 that Catalan voters would never elect a majority of pro-independence MPs to our parliament, but we did.
Then they said that the pro-independence coalition would be too divided to agree on a new President and a new government, but we did. Then the talk was about the impossibility of passing the budget for 2017, and that would put an early end to the legislative term. But it didn’t happen.
Now opponents of the referendum say that it will never take place. But since last Friday we already know the date – the 1st of October, and question: “Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state in the form of a republic?” – of the self-determination referendum, and during the coming weeks Catalans will officially be called to vote. Looking at the track record of those who would deny Catalans the opportunity to decide on our own political future, it is indeed a good sign that they keep saying we will never vote. This is possibly the best reassurance that just the opposite will happen.
In a democracy, how do you prevent a much awaited and widely called-for vote from taking place?
In a democracy, can a vote really be illegal, especially when it comes after all other alternative roads have been blocked by a central government unable and unwilling to negotiate and compromise?
These are the questions that come to mind when we hear from the Spanish government that they will do whatever it takes to impede the vote. Of course, we take it for granted that threats and pressures of every kind and on many people will continue to come from the Spanish government and judiciary. But this won’t make us depart from our commitment to make democracy prevail. We have a democratic mandate to let Catalans vote, and we will honour it. It is our basic democratic rights that are at stake. As the prominent football trainer Pep Guardiola stated clearly last Sunday in Barcelona before a crowd supporting the October referendum, “we will vote even if the Spanish government does not want us to”. It is certainly not us who is afraid of democracy.
Jordi Solé i Ferrando
Member of the European Parliament, Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance
Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya