A Clarity Agreement to achieve the definitive referendum: with a name borrowed from Canada's Clarity Act on the question of Quebec's independence, the Catalan president, Pere Aragonès, today put a proposal aimed at creating clear rules for the aspirations of Catalonia to achieve independence from Spain. President Aragonès, of the ERC party, presented the plan this Tuesday on the first day of the Catalan Parliament's general policy debate in an attempt to give a new impetus to the pro-independence political process and respond to the demands from the other pro-independence parties - his government partners Junts and the left-wing CUP - to overcome a situation that the president himself has admitted is deadlocked. This Clarity Agreement, he said, needs to be transversal and arise from a Catalonia-wide consensus to make possible an agreed referendum, internationally recognized and with political consequences. After an hour and a half of presentation, the session was adjourned until this afternoon, amidst the applause of ERC and the coolness of Junts members.
Aragonès had already let it be known in his institutional discourse for Catalan National Day, on September 11th, that his proposal was for Catalans to vote again. This morning, however, he began to specify the way to make it possible. "I want to propose a Clarity Agreement to the Spanish state. An agreement that identifies when and how Catalonia can again exercise the right to decide. As Canada and Quebec have done. As the United Kingdom and Scotland were also able to do - and I am convinced that they will do it again," explained the president in the last part of his speech.
The general policy debate has arrived in the middle of a tense period between the government partners. This tension flared up before the summer with the suspension of Junts president Laura Borràs as an MP and speaker of parliament, after she was sent to trial over alleged contractual irregularities when she headed the Institute of Catalan Letters; and it intensified at the end of August when Junts presented an internal audit on the degree of compliance with the coalition agreement it reached with ERC to form the Catalan government in 2021, leading to its demand to materialize the proposals on the strategic direction of the independence movement, the parties' coordination in Madrid and the dialogue table. The confrontation between the two parties, which became evident in a meeting at the Palau de Pedralbes on September 14th, has stretched the coalition to the limit. Aragonès's proposal during the general policy debate had to encompass his response to all this.
Both ERC and Junts held meetings of their parliamentary groups before the start of the session. Borràs, suspended, and the general secretary of Junts, Jordi Turull, who is not an MP, followed the plenary session from the authorities' tribune. The deputy speaker, ERC's Alba Vergès, presided over the plenary session.
Aragonès explained that he wants to take this proposal forward with "the maximum support and the maximum complicity of Catalan society" and affirmed that this is the "quickest and most efficient way to vote again" because its starting point is in what has been learnt from the autumn of 2017. "It is the way to involve everyone in the referendum, so that everyone recognizes the results and in order to allow us to weave the necessary international complicity if we want it to work for us, as independence supporters, [because] only the legitimacy of a negotiated referendum can replace October 1st," he argued. He stated that the Clarity Agreement must be the way for "a definitive referendum" that allows the result to be translated into political consequences.
The president argued with data from Catalonia's CEO public research agency that the holding of a referendum is supported by broad social consensus, both among pro-independence voters and among supporters of the Catalan Socialists and, "even" 50% of Ciudadanos voters; and only finds stronger among supporters of the People's Party and Vox. He opted to open a debate in society as a whole to build the foundations of this Clarity Agreement that will have to be presented to the Spanish state, and he announced that his government will promote the mechanisms to facilitate the preparation of a "proposal by Catalonia as a country", basing itself on the "plurality and diversity that exists in the country". "I sincerely believe that the Clarity Agreement is the proposal that we can provide that is most inclusive, most democratic and most explainable to the international community. A country proposal aimed at the entire country."
The president had said when opening his speech, that he had divided the proposals into three blocs. The third of these, he said, was the need to return the independence process to politics. "We must end the repression. And we must construct the path that will make the referendum effective. The referendum in which everyone feels called on to vote, those of us who are pro-independence and those who are not. The referendum in which all parties recognize the result and, therefore, the will of the citizens can be implemented. And the referendum that brings together all the legitimacy in the eyes of the international community and, therefore, helps us to have the support that we have lacked until now", he argued.
Aragonès, who did not explicitly refer to the dialogue table between the Spanish and Catalan governments at any time, has admitted that the quest for a political solution to the process is in "a situation of deadlock" that must be overcome. "We are all aware of where we are. We can begin from different starting points. Even opposite points. We have different analyses and diagnoses. But despite this, we all have to find where we overlap in order to move forward again," he claimed in a direct appeal to the rest of the pro-independence forces.
To overcome this situation, he called to "put an end once and for all to all forms of repression", calling for the closing of court cases, an end to bans on office holding, threats and espionage. According to the president, progress has been made along these lines, as evidenced by the fact that the nine pro-independence political prisoners jailed for sedition regained their freedom, but it is not enough.
Along with the political process, Aragonès also addressed two other major areas in his address: the increase in the cost of living, which is causing "a complex situation" that the Catalan government is confronting by attempting to control the effects of inflation and through a package of anti-crisis measures that he detailed throughout his speech; and the push for "transformations" linked to the 2030 Agenda on sustainable development.