Statement on the political situation in Catalonia

“The Bureau of Liberal International is very concerned with the situation in Spain in relation to Catalonia. It acknowledges –in sociological terms- the existence of different worldviews in Catalonia and the rest of Spain. These diverging views of the same reality produce diametrically opposed analyses of the situation, causes and possible solutions and spell trouble for the future.

A large majority of Catalans desire according to opinion polls to hold a referendum on their future, whether they agree or not on independence from Spain. The current legality in Spain is not conducive to such a vote. Liberal International early on, at its congresses in Rotterdam and Mexico, recognized this problem and advocated political negotiations to find a solution. These never took place.

Liberal International does not wish to enter the debate on independence or to assign blame for the current situation but it notes with regret that the present difficulties were foreseen and that no political dialogue has occurred. The current criminalization of political officials happening in Catalonia though is unhelpful and reprehensible. Some of the more than 700 Catalan mayors asked by the justice system to appear in front of a judge under penalty of imprisonment have appealed to us: many are from our sister political organization in Catalonia active in LI for decades. We offer them our steadfast support. But we also urge the Catalan authorities to seek a concerted way of constitutional evolution with the rest of Spain. And we urge the authorities at the state level in Spain to be responsive to the reality of current disaffection from a large number of Catalans.

Similar desires of a large number of people to vote on their future –even when they have turned out to be less than the majority and have produced negative outcomes for independence- have been accommodated in the past decades in Canada and the United Kingdom. Examples abound as well in Europe of constitutional evolution and difficult political negotiations that make living together in federal settings possible in the long run, such as in Belgium or Switzerland. The present conflict in Catalonia requires mutual respect from all parties concerned particularly of each other’s worldviews and the will to sit together in a concerted and timely way to find a politically negotiated solution. Criminalizing political actors will only accentuate the present chasm and needs to be avoided. Although a political solution should have been tackled much before the current events had taken place, in our opinion there is still time to craft political agreements that will allow to resolve this crisis. Liberal International is ready and willing to provide assistance and mediation, if required, to all parties concerned”.

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