9-N - November 9th 2014

The Participative Process on Independence for Catalonia

The event known as 9-N took place on November 9th 2014 and was a proxy referendum or consultation on Catalonia's relationship with Spain, which was officially called a participative or participatory process for legal reasons.

The consultation was organised by the Generalitat of Catalonia and the question consisted of two parts: "Do you want Catalonia to become a State? And in the event that the answer is affirmative, do you want that State to be independent?"

The announcement of the participative process in its final format was made by the President of Catalonia, Artur Mas, on October 14th 2014 from the Gothic Gallery of the Palau de la Generalitat following the banning of the original consultation by the Spanish government.

Firsly, the Spanish Parliament refused to agree to allow a legal referendum on Catalan independence when formally requested by Catalan politicians in April 2014.

Secondly, following appeals by the Spanish government, the Spanish Constitutional Court imposed injunctions on both the Law of Non-Referendary Consultations and Other Forms of Citizen Participation and the Decree Calling the Popular Non-Referendary Consultation on the Political Future of Catalonia, in order to make the non-binding consultation illegal.

The calling of the consultation had been the central agreement of "The Pact for Freedom", which had been signed by the two main Catalan pro-independence parties, Convergència i Unió and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, following the elections of November 2012.

The date and question for the consultation had been announced by Artur Mas on December 12th 2013 with the support of CiU and ERC as well as Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds-Esquerra Alternativa i Unida and the Candidatura d'Unitat Popular in the Parliament of Catalonia, which meant it had 87 out of 135 votes in favour.

It also had the support of the majority of local institutions, including 920 Ajuntaments or town councils, 36 Comarcal Councils, the Consell General d'Aran and the 4 Catalan Provincial Diputations, all of which had passed motions in favour of the consultation.





Background

The Catalan Independence Process refers to a series of events relating to Catalonia's right to self-determination, which have been the focus of political and social debate since at least September 11th 2012.

However, the roots of the current surge in the Catalan independence movement go back further to the demonstration of June 2010, which was called as a response to the Spanish Constitutional Court's ruling making severe cuts to the 2006 Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia.

Following this first demonstration, massive demonstrations have been organised to coincide with the Diada, the National Day of Catalonia, on September 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, which have brought over 1.5 million people out onto the streets of Catalonia every year.

It was hoped that this process would culminate in a referendum to held on November 9th 2014, which finally couldn't be called due to the fact that the Spanish Congress of Deputies refused to give its approval, and as a result the referendum was replaced by what was known as a popular consultation.

The holding of the consultation was also challenged by the Spanish government and suspended by the Spanish Constitutional Court, and for this reason, Artur Mas replaced it with a participative process in accordance with existing Catalan laws and using the same question and planned for the same day.


History

Announcement of the Consultation (December 2013)

The date and question for the consultation were announced by Artur Mas at 2 pm on December 12th 2013 at a ceremony held at the Palau de la Generalitat, which was attended by the leaders of all the political parties that supported it: Jordi Turull (CDC), Joana Ortega (UDC), Ramon Espadaler (UDC), Oriol Junqueras (ERC), Marta Rovira (ERC), Joan Herrera (ICV), Joan Mena (EUiA) and David Fernàndez (CUP).

At the same time, it was decided to ask the Spanish Congress of Deputies to transfer the power to call "a consultative referendum" to the Generalitat.Mariano Rajoy, the President of the Spanish Government, answered by saying "this consultation won't go ahead because it's unconstitutional", while Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, General Secretary of PSOE and Leader of the Opposition, agreed with Rajoy and added "The referendum that Mas is proposing is taking Catalonia down a blind alley".

Request to Congress to hold the Referendum (April 2014)

On January 16th 2013, the Parliament of Catalonia voted in favour of sending representatives to the Congress of Deputies in Madrid to ask for permission to hold a referendum on the political future of Catalonia.

The motion was passed by the 84 votes of CiU, ERC and ICV-EUiA along with three extra votes of rebel PSC members, Joan Ignasi Elena, Núria Ventura and Marina Geli, making a total of 87 votes in favour out of 135.

Despite being in favour of the referendum, the three CUP deputies abstained because they considered asking the Spanish Parliament for permission unnecessary.PPC, Ciutadans and the rest of the PSC, a total of 43 members, all voted against the motion.

Until the very last moment it hadn't been clear whether PSC would vote against or not even though, the party's national council had decided that were not in favour of a referendum.

Initially five deputies considered breaking the whip but, following threats of expusion from the party, Àngel Ros didn't attend the session and Rocío Martínez-Sampere finally voted against the motion.

On April 8th 2014, the Congress of Deputies voted on whether to accept a law proposed by three Catalan representatives, Jordi Turrull (CDC), Marta Rivira (ERC) and Joan Herrera (ICV-EUiA).

The law, which had been passed by the Parliament of Catalonia, proposed that the Generalitat be delegated "the power to authorise, call and hold a consultative referendum so that the Catalan people can decide on the collective political future of Catalonia", a power that is justified by Article 150.2 of the Spanish Constitution.

The proposed law wasn't admitted by 299 votes against (PP, PSOE, UPyD, UPN and Foro Asturias), 47 votes in favour (CiU, IU, ICV-EUiA, CHA, PNB, Amaiur, ERC, BNG, Nueva Canarias, Compromís and Geroa Bai) and 1 abstention (Coalición Canaria).

A few minutes after the result of the vote was announced, Artur Mas said in a press conference that "the No of the Congress of Deputies to the transfer of powers enabling the organisation of a consultation couldn't stop the will of the people of Catalonia" and that the independence process would continue as planned. Anna Simó  (ERC) also announceed that the independence roadmap would continue and that, in accordance with Article 122 of the Statute of Autonomy, work would begin on the Law of Non-Referendary Consultations and Other Forms of Citizen Participation.

La Via Catalana or The Catalan Way (September 2014)

On the National Day of Catalonia on September 11th 2014, the vent organised by the Catalan National Assembly and Òmnium Cultural was a massive demonstration along the Barcelona streets of Avinguda Diagonal and Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes

It made the shape of a massive V, which stood for both Vote and Victory, and was designed to give support to the forthcoming consultation and the independence of Catalonia.

The Law of Popular Consultations, the Decree and the Participative Process (September-October 2014)

The Law of Non-Referendary Consultations and Other Forms of Citizen Participation was passed in a plenary session of the Parliament of Catalonia on September 19th 2014 with votes in favour from CiU, ERC, PSC, ICV-EUiA and CUP, which made up 79% of the house, and votes against from the PP and Ciutadans. On September 27th, Artur Mas signed the decree that called the consultation for November 9th.

On September 29th, following an extraordinary meeting of the Council of State, which was presided by José Manuel Romay Beccaría, a jurist who had occupied various positions under the Franco regime, the Spanish Government decided to present an appeal to the Constititutional Court against the Law of Popular Consultations.

For the first time in history, the President of the Constitutional Court, former Partido Popular member, Francisco Pérez de los Lobos, called an extraordinary meeting of its members on the same day, where the appeals from the Spanish Government were accepted. This meant the immediate suspension for a period of five months of the Law of Consultations and the subsequent Decree calling the referendum.

The suspension created a crisis amongst the parties in favour of the popular consultation and after three very tense meetings, on October 14th, President Mas decided to replace the popular consultation with a so-called "participative process" organised by the Generalitat of Catalonia, which included the same question and would take place on the same day.

The participative process was suspended by the Constitutional Court again on November 4th. Howevever, the vote went ahead anyway.

Organisation

Date and Participation

The vote took place between 9 am and 8 pm on November 9th and people were assigned a polling station according to the address they had registered at the local town hall and a voting table according to the first letter of their first surname.

The right to vote was personal and intransferable and in order to vote voters had to be registered in the regster of participants.

Voters completed registration immediately before voting by adding their name and surnames to a list of participants along with their DNI or NIE, the national identity document and foreigner identification number respectively.

  • The people allowed to participate were:
  • All Catalans aged 16 or over on November 9th 2014 living either in Catalonia or abroad
  • All EU nationals, all nationals of signatory states European Economic Area Agreement and Switzerland aged 16 or over and resident in Catalonia on November 9th 2014
  • All third state nationals aged 16 or over and resident in Catalonia on November 9th 2014

Catalans resident or temporarily abroad could participate between 9 am and 8 pm local time on November 9th at designated polling stations, which were located at their nearest Delegation of the Generalitat and Agència per la Competitivitat de l'Empresa offices.

The voting period was extended from November 10th to 25th to anyone who could provide document showing a good reason for having been able to vote on November 9th.

Legal Framework

The legal framework for the consultation was the 2006 Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia and the Law of Non-Referendary Consultations and Other Forms of Citizen Participation of September 26th 2014.

System of Guarantees and Supervision

The system of guarantees comprised the Consell General de Participació (General Council of Participation), which was the body responsible for supervising the process and guaranteeing transparency, and the citizens manning the electoral tables, who monitored the voting process. Civil servants were responsible for supervising the process at the polling stations and officially validate the final count.

At the same time, a group of international observers, headed by MEP Ian Duncan, watched how the vote was organised and checked that it was run in accordance with democratic.

The Question

The question was made up of two parts: "Do you want Catalonia to become a State? And in the event that the answer is affirmative, do you want that State to be independent?"


The Campaign

The institutional campaign began on October 15th with an information slot using the slogan "Tu hi participes, tu decideixes" (You participate, you decide) on radio, television and in the press, and from October 25th, it focused on who could participate and how.

The main debates took place in civic and cultural centres on October 30th and November 8th and the bodies that campaigned in favour of YES-YES vote were the Catalan National Assembly and Òmnium Cultural along with CDC, ERC, CUP and SI. UDC and ICV-EUiA allowed a free vote whilst Partido Popular and Ciutadans campaigned in favour of NO vote.

Results

The results of the consultation were as follows:


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