Esquerra Republicana sets conditions for an independence referendum in its policy manifesto

Esquerra espouses calling forth the country’s 80% majority in favour of the referendum in order to take the plebiscite to the negotiating table with the Spanish State, and sets the conditions for voting again open to debate in Catalan society

Esquerra Republicana stakes on an independence referendum as the best way to ensure the establishment of the Catalan Republic. In its policy manifesto for the January 2023 National Congress, Esquerra advocates calling up the country’s 80% majority defending the plebiscite in order to bring the democratic instrument to the negotiating table with the State, and submits the conditions for the referendum for debate by Catalan society.

“Esquerra Republicana has set its sights on the path to the Catalan Republic, which is through a referendum,” said party Deputy Secretary-General and spokeswoman Marta Vilalta at a press briefing. “We want the citizens to decide in a participatory and plural manner, and the referendum is the most inclusive instrument for that,” she stated.

The manifesto confirms the party’s commitment to an independent Catalan Republic “as the best tool to serve the people and guarantee the rights and freedom for everyone.” To get there, Esquerra Republicana defends that it is necessary to “once again spur the social majority of the 1st and 3rd of October 2017,” which brought together “not only pro-independence political and social actors, but those in favour of the right to self-determination for Catalonia, and also the democrats who objected to the repression by Spanish State.” And Esquerra stakes on doing so around “the greatest social consensus in our country: the convening of an independence referendum.”

For Esquerra, the referendum “is the greatest expression of the democratic will of a society,” one that “empowers the citizenry most,” and “the best way to build a Republic with everyone and for everyone.” The party is committed to articulating a Clarity Agreement whereby the conditions can be set, based on “a debate and the achievement of consensus in Catalonia” on “the concrete formula” and with the aim of building the greatest possible democratic force. And in the context of this debate, Esquerra Republicana offers in the manifesto the conditions it believes the referendum should have, in a proposal that makes the following points “open to public debate”:

  • Esquerra opts for a “clear question, like that for the referendum on 1st October, 2017”
  • All those residing in Catalonia over the age of 16 and all those non-residents who have the right to vote in the elections to the Parliament of Catalonia can vote, as was the case in the 2014 referendum in Scotland.
  • “A clear ‘Yes’ victory should give rise to a negotiation process in good faith between the Catalan and Spanish governments, with European and international mediation, with a view to reaching an agreement that allows the creation of an internationally recognized independent Catalan Republic,” in line with what was established in the opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada on the referendum in Quebec.
  • Victory for the ‘Yes’ vote would be clear “with a minimum turnout of 50% and at least 55% of votes for ‘Yes’ to independence,” as was established for the referendum in Montenegro that received European endorsement after being discussed and recognized multilaterally by both the Montenegrin and Serbian governments along with the European institutions.

“We want to reach agreement on these conditions with Catalan society in order to then be able to present it with the strength and consensus of the people at the negotiating table and discuss it with Spain to make possible the referendum that the citizens deserve, and that is the key to resolving the political conflict” Ms Vilalta assured.

In the document, Esquerra values the transversal nature of the independence movement, declaring its “proactive, empathetic, open and inclusive” character as the key to success, while considering a pending challenge “the growing polarization in which a part of the independence movement is immersed,” and must be distanced “from the anti-political and populist current that is running through the Catalan Countries, Spain, Europe and the world.”

The fruits of staking on negotiation

The document highlights the dialogue and negotiation process with the Spanish State, and underlines that thanks to the political strength of Esquerra Republicana, for the first time the Spanish government has recognized the existence of a political conflict with Catalonia and has sat at the negotiating table.

The document states that “progress in the dejudicialization of the conflict and in the anti-repressive agenda demonstrate the effects of the electoral strength of Esquerra Republicana, and by extension of the independence movement.” In this regard, she emphasized that the Socialist party has moved “from publicly staking that the pro-independence leaders would serve their entire prison sentences” and “making illegal referendums a criminal offence,” to “sitting at the negotiating table and agreeing to discuss everything,” “partially pardoning the political prisoners,” and “addressing the repeal of sedition.”

In the second phase in the resolution of the conflict, Esquerra Republicana defends the need to call the social majority in Catalonia in favour of the referendum and convey this consensus of 80% of the population to the negotiating table, to which Esquerra will bring the clear conditions for voting. Esquerra also states that they will not give up “any democratic instrument” that allows the Catalans to decide on their “collective future.”

Governing well to grow ever more

And for there to be more of us, and stronger, the manifesto states that the instruments that make us progress still faster are the republican policies and good government, as well as the “construction of sovereignty” in all walks of life. The document details a whole series of policies that Esquerra is now implementing and “building spaces of sovereignty” within the context of the great transformations that the country needs so much: economic and energy sovereignty, feminist sovereignty, social sovereignty and democratic sovereignty. And he adds a fifth area: linguistic and cultural sovereignty, which is “fundamental for national construction and social cohesion.”

The process for amendments will now open for members to make contributions to the document. At the beginning of January, the territorial and sectoral congresses will be held in order to debate and pass the amendments, and the policy manifesto will be submitted for final approval at the plenary of the National Congress, which is to take place on the 28th of January, 2023.

Along with the policy manifesto, a proposal for reform of the Statutes has also been sent to the members, which is meant to adapt the party’s chief organizational regulations to present times and modifies certain technical issues.