By a Newsnet reporter

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has remained unmoved by Wednesday's demonstration in Catalonia when over 1.6 million formed a human chain the length of the country to demand independence.

In a letter to Artur Mas, President of the Catalan government, Mr Rajoy restated the Spanish government's position that Catalonia must abandon its demand for a referendum on independence, which the Spanish government insists is contrary to the Spanish constitution.

The Spanish Prime Minister promised "dialogue - without an expiry date" with the Catalan government on questions "of general interest to Spaniards", but refused to negotiate on the referendum.

Writing that "together we all win and apart we all lose," the Spanish PM repeated previous calls from his government that Catalonia abandon its ambitions to independence, adding: "The links that maintain us united cannot be untied without emotional, economic, political and social costs."

Mr Rajoy then called upon Mr Mas and the Catalan Parliament to "work to strengthen those links, and avoid confrontations".

The Spanish government's continuing refusal to allow an independence referendum has not been well received in Catalonia. 

The co-leader of the Catalan Green party, Joan Herrera, said that Mr Rajoy's letter showed only that "he has understood nothing".  Speaking to Europa Press, Mr Herrera said that the Spanish Government could not see that Catalan disaffection was aggravated by "the lack of an intelligent and democratic response" from Madrid. 

Mr Herrera added that Mr Rajoy had not altered his position from last year, even after last weeks' massive public participation in the Via Catalana, and that the actions of the Partido Popular (the party of Mr Rajoy) demonstrated that they sought to "silence the majority".

Oriol Junqueras, leader of the ERC (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya), the junior partners in the pro-sovereignty coalition government in Barcelona, said that Mr Rajoys remarks demonstrated that Catalonia must seek its own path. 

Mr Junqueras said:

"If the Spanish Government ignores the clamour for the vote, if it takes shelter in false legal limitations in order to postpone it, we will have to find our own path."

The ERC has previously stated that it would like the Catalan referendum to be held on either the 7th or the 14th of September 2014 - just days before Scotland's independence referendum. 

Mr Rajoy's continuing refusal to consider a Catalan referendum is likely to  strengthen the party's demand to hold the referendum in 2014, irrespective of what Madrid says.

Faced with the Spanish government's intransigence on the referendum issue, Catalan President Artur Mas stated on Saturday that he would seek a joint response to Mr Rajoy's letter from other parties in the Catalan Parliament on Wednesday, during that day's debate on the "General Policy of the Parliament".


# ButeHouse 2013-09-15 00:39
The Spanish are living in the Middle Ages if they think they can hide behind the nonsense of a referendum being banned by the Constitution.

This is complete madness in the 21st century - even Russia allowed its 'colonies' to go - eventually.

The Catalonians will hold and win their Independence Referendum and it will be upheld by the International community.

VOTE YES in 368 Days
# Jo Bloggs 2013-09-15 05:52
"....even Russia allowed its 'colonies' to go - eventually."

Only those that were fortunate enough to have been incorporated into the empire after the Bolshevik coup d'etat in 1917. For the rest, well, what about Chechnya, the blackest stain so far on the Putin regime?
# Leader of the Pack 2013-09-15 06:38

We were lucky that Labour & the Lib dems were stupid enough to believe devolution would obstruct the drive to Independence. Without the devolved Parliament set up the SNP would never have won the mandate to call the referendum here. Westminster would never have agreed to a referendum even if the majority of Scots expressed a wish for it. Especially if a majority of Scots expressed a wish for it. They only agreed on a referendum on STV because it was a price agreement on getting into coalition.
Its a pity the Catalans don't have their own Devolved Parliament. Just shows you how stupid our unionist parties are.
# 2612 2013-09-15 11:04

The story is about Mt Mas and the Catalan Parliament.

This is their equivilant of Holyrood, but they cannot get something similar to the Edinburgh Agreement.
# Leader of the Pack 2013-09-15 18:37
Clearly it isn't an equivalent of the Scottish Parliament or they wouldn't need the full Spanish Parliament to sign off on a referendum.
We didn't need the Edinburgh agreement to hold the referendum the Edinburgh agreement occurred because the SNP had already won the MANDATE to hold the referendum. Clearly the Catalans don't have a legal mandate to hold a referendum unless it goes through the full Spanish Parliament. That's the difference between having a "Devolved Parliament" and an ACT OF UNION between NATIONAL PARLIAMENTS.
# Marga B 2013-09-16 11:30
The Catalans do have a mandate, Leader - in the sense that the last elections were called early basically on this issue, and parties supporting the right to have a referendum won a full majority. A bit like the Scottish parliament, in fact.

Of course, the Catalan and Scottish parliaments have varying powers, but one of the main differences is the amount of institutional interference from the central Spanish government in regional affairs even when the regions technically hold the competences.

Also their rigidity in interpreting the written Spanish constitution. Territorial integrity is an absolute for Spain (see Gibraltar recently).

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