Two main Catalan parties, civil society organizations agree on 18-month roadmap to independence

ERC, CDC to include commitment to "independence" in their Sep 27 manifestos · Catalan Constitution to be drafted within 10 months after vote · Independence to be declared in 2017 at the latest · Support from other parties of critical importance to ensure pro-independence majority in Parliament

Two main Catalan parties Democratic Convergence (CDC, liberal centre-right) and Republican Left (ERC, social-democrat centre-left) yesterday agreed on a roadmap towards Catalan independence from Spain in 2017 at the latest, after a snap election is held on September 27th later this year. The roadmap was also signed by another minor pro-independence party (Reagrupament), two main pro-independence civil society organizations Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium, plus the Association of Pro-Independence Municipalities (AMI).

According to the roadmap, the process towards the establishment of a new "Catalan state or republic" will start rightly after the September 27th election if pro-independence parties achieve a majority. In this respect, the deal says the election will amount to a de facto referendum on independence -a binding one cannot be held because of opposition from the Spanish government.

As per yesterday's deal, the main item on pro-independence parties' manifestos should be a clear commitment with independence. Thus, it is implied that all citizens voting for those parties will be casting a vote for independence.

The main news on yesterday's deal is the fact that this is the first time ever that CDC signs such a clear commitment to "independence" using that word, setting aside more imprecise wordings such as "own state."

Up till 2012, CDC had vowed to reach a new agreement with the Spanish government for enlarged self-government for Catalonia within Spain. The party now says that longstanding rejection by Madrid to negotiate with Barcelona makes it all but impossible to pursue that way.

Roadmap not subject to court challenge

The 18-month period towards independence, as agreed on the deal, will be starting with a "declaration on sovereignty." It would be the second one that Catalonia passes, since the Catalan Parliament approved another one in 2013. Nevertheless, this time the declaration is to explicitly herald "the start of the process towards the proclamation of a new State, or Catalan Republic". This declaration, the roadmap says, will "not be subject" to challenges by Spanish courts, thus opening the door to unilateral steps from the Catalan side.

Within a 10-month time, pro-independence parties and associations say that a Catalan Constitution should be drafted "through a participatory mechanism," open to "direct participation of citizens." This Constitution should be approved in a referendum later on. Only after this referendum, independence will be formally declared -this is, 2017 at the latest. Negotiations on "new forms of relations with the Spanish State and the European Union" will then be launched.

CDC and ERC hope more parties will join the deal

CDC and ERC leaders today said they hope more Catalan pro-sovereignty parties will join the deal. The support by anti-capitalist pro-independence CUP is of critical importance, since vote for that party is expected to grow in the upcoming election. In fact, according to recent polls, a pro-independence majority could only be achieved if CDC, ERC and CUP votes were added.

Small centre-left, pro-sovereignty party MES (mostly made up of former members of federalist PSC) is also mulling support to the roadmap. CDC allies UDC (christian democrat) will decide on its official position towards independence in June.

Federalist parties ICV (ecosocialist) and EUiA (communist) say they are not supporting yesterday's agreement, even if EUiA had been involved in drafting it.

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