Coalition waters down draft bill on Catalan vote

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THE wording of a resolution on independence has again been watered down as Catalonia’s political leaders attempt to win wider support when the issue is debated in the regional parliament next week.

The word “independence” and the aspiration to be a “new European state” have already been dropped from the draft which now simply calls on the Generalitat to ratify the right of Catalans to decide their own political future and commits to a referendum by 2014.

The declaration also includes a clause committing to mobilise and organise a popular movement in favour of self-determination, including “civil disobedience if obstacles are placed before the will of the people”.

Jordi Turull, for the ruling Convergencia i Unio party, said “we have made this amendment so no party has an excuse not to support the resolution”.

While the amendment might win over the Greens, who hold 13 seats, it is unlikely to affect the Catalan Socialists, who have to toe the line of the national party which is opposed to any dismemberment of the Spanish state. The pro-independence parties hold 74 of 135 seats and, as they already have a majority, the amended wording is an attempt to widen the consensus on the “right to decide”. The Greens refuse to exclude the possibility of a remaining within the Spanish state.

Esquerra Republicana (Republican Left), which is in a loose coalition with the CiU, led by Artur Mas, has rejected calls to draw up the resolution from scratch in a way that it would win the Socialists’ support.

In Madrid, the government of Mariano Rajoy has decided to sit back and watch things unfurl in Barcelona, perhaps convinced that the coalition is too rickety to survive beyond the spring.