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Joan Coscubiela (Barcelona, ​​1954) was secretary general of CCOO (Comment: Spain´s main workers union) in Catalonia between 1995 and 2008.

Joan Coscubiela became a national celebrity after his speech at the Parliament of Catalonia on September 7, 2017, when he denounced as spokesman for ‘Catalunya Si Que es Pot’ (Comment: “Catalonia Yes We Can, Leftist Coalition) the performance of the pro-independence parties  


Joan Coscubiela received a standing applause of members of Parliament belonging to  PSC (Comment: Catalan Socialist Party), “Ciudadanos” (Center), the Popular Party (Conservatives) and the most of his own party.   He was a representative in the Spanish Congress for ‘Iniciativa per Catalunya’ (Catalan left wing and greens coalition) between 2011 and 2015. He has just published “Empantanados” (“Stuck”) in Ed. Peninsula, a book which picks up his most recent political experiences in Catalonia.

The speech by Joan Coscubiela (Catalan Left) in the plenary session of the Parliament of Catalonia

Full text of his speech in the Plenary Session | El Periódico / Barcelona


Friday, 08/09/2017 | Updated on 09/12/2017 at 07:45 CEST


“Good, thanks, good night. These days it is clear that the Parliament of Catalonia has crossed the Rubicon. For years the extreme bunker mentality of the Popular Party (Comment: Spanish conservatives in central government), its refusal to recognize the right to decide, the use of the state sewers, the attempt to solve a political problem disregarding politics and betting solely on repression has placed us in what some have described as an unknown territory. Until this very date, at these times, in a real state crisis, the only actions that the Popular Party and the Government of Mr. Rajoy are capable of carrying out are in the field of judicial courts and criminal responsibilities, without a single political proposal.

In this context, it was and still is absolutely important that the pro-sovereignty forces choose the terrain of conflict well. For years we the pro-sovereignty forces have been the ones to win the ideological battle for democracy. This is what has made us strong; that is what has allowed us to add, which has allowed us to have plenty of moral authority.

And you, the parliamentary majority, have finished off this political capital in forty-eight black hours; a political capital which for five years has been the great strength of the pro-sovereignty side, the great moral authority of the defense of democracy. And all this only because irresponsibly you have decided that your strategy of a unilateral referendum had to be carried out at any price, losing sight of what has been the great political capital of sovereignty: the moral authority of the defense of democracy.



The battle for the ballot boxes, the battle for the referendum can only be won if the path is made from the most scrupulous respect to democracy here in Catalonia. And so far it had been like this, but during these forty-eight black hours in the Parliament of Catalonia you have wiped it out. How could you not be able to evaluate, how could you ignore during those forty-eight black hours, that placing yourselves in the field of denial of democratic rights weakens the objective of the referendum and the legitimate aspiration held by some in the pro-independence camp? And, in addition, it facilitates the anti-democratic strategy of the Popular Party and the criminalization of the right to decide.

What a great mistake, Mr. Puigdemont, what great irresponsibility you have committed yesterday and today! How have you been able to deliver the flag of democracy to the PP, the party that steps on the democratic rights of minorities in Spain, the party of the gag, the party of the life imprisonment, the party of strikes repression, the party that denies us the right to decide, the party which is the heir of Mr. Fraga, who once stated: ‘the street belongs to me’, and of the death sentences of the Franco regime?



All of this … no, all of this, you, during this Plenary Session of the last  two days, have thrown it overboard because you have allowed others to pick up this flag. This is the great consequence of this historical error of which you will be responsible. I hope to share with “Junts pel Si”(comment: ruling separatist coalition) and the CUP (radical separatist) one thing, which is that the convening and holding of a referendum and the beginning of a constituent process, which would conclude with the creation of a republic, are the objectives of this law. These are subjects of great transcendence – at least, in this we have to agree, I guess, right?

And, therefore, they cannot be treated with the same superficiality and lack of rigor and contempt for democracy that you have applied in these sessions. Among other things, because using procedures that deny the democratic rights of a large part of this Parliament delegitimizes the legitimate objectives of the referendum and the constituent process. This is what we are telling you from all the groups (Comment: non ruling) in the Parliament.

The means used always influence and affect goals achieved. They will be dignified, if the means are worthy, or they will be degraded and delegitimized, as it happened yesterday, if the means are authoritarian and barely democratic. And if our arguments do not serve you, I suggest that you read Norberto Bobbio and all his reflections on purposes and means and their deep relationship, how they condition each other. The means used can delegitimize absolutely legitimate goals and this is what you have done during these forty-eight black hours of the Parliament of Catalonia. The way you are dealing with these debates shows something very clear: you are not … we are not facing a serious project.



This is a project which only aims to present a story to keep alive the fiction of a binding unilateral referendum, and that is the goal that you have placed before us during these forty-eight hours as well. One can know …, none of you have yet answered this question: how can one know what kind of need you had to force the machine today for such a pyrrhic purpose as a law that is wet paper, and which even if it were not suspended by the Constitutional Court, it would never be applicable, because its limitations make it inapplicable, the limitations of a law that does not have the capacity and the force behind necessary for it to be implemented. This law is placed in the field of the sort of political fiction which you have accustomed us to during these two years of mandate. Many of us believe that the social, political and territorial pact born out of the Constitution, of the Transition, is exhausted, it is most exhausted. We are many, those who believe that a constituent process must be implemented.

Quite another thing is if this is done following declarations and motions, or whether it is done by achieving a sufficient correlation of forces, because it is not guaranteed that the final result would be better than what was achieved in the year 1978.    But without a doubt, it is legitimate to ask for it. But does anyone think that such a process can be achieved outside of the correlation of forces at their disposal? And that this could be done through a law that declares independence unilaterally and the configuration of a republic, like you are bringing up to us at this very moment?

The majority has tried, in just a moment, to approve a law that supposedly entails, among other things, the unilateral declaration of independence and the foundation of the Catalan Republic. Look, we do not challenge the objectives of this law. They are legitimate, like all goals. What we do challenge, of course, is the fact that …, you  do not tell us how you plan to achieve them only with the publication of a law, if it is to be done in the end, and unilaterally, because that is the really fundamental issue.

Laws can force, have power, coercive capacity, ability to be imposed. That is why international organizations approve resolutions and many norms and then they cannot fulfill them, they cannot impose them, because they lack this coercive capacity to be imposed. This is the definition of State, the definition that relates the State to norms and ability to be demanded and, therefore, the possibility of being applied.


THE MEMBER OF SPANISH PARLIAMENT MR. RUFIÁN (comment: Belonging to the Catalan separatist party ERC)

A few days ago, someone raised a question in a talk-show to the member of the Spanish Congress Mr. Rufián how he would apply the law and expel the Spanish army from its border control role.  And his response was: “I do not know.” And when asked how to control air space, his response was the same: “I do not know.” The member of Spanish Congress: “Mr. I do not know”, in the end recognizes that it is not possible. Well, well, each and every one of the sections in this law raises the same questions, and all have the same answer, that of Mr. Rufián: “I do not know”. How do you plan to enforce this law in order to exercise sovereignty over land and sea space described in Article 6? Could you tell me?

This proposal regulates Catalan nationality and generously generates the recognition of dual nationality and also says that this topic will be agreed with the Spanish State, together with public debt and “I do not know”, how many other things. Can you explain to me how it is not possible to agree on a referendum on self-determination and, on the contrary, a unilateral declaration of independence can be made, in addition to the Catalan Republic, and then, after this process, achieving a negotiation on dual nationality, will be possible? Can you explain this to me? Of course you can think, well, about what someone said in relation to Europe: “OK, they will not dare leaving me outside of Europe, because then the problem would be theirs, right?  Because, it’s so clear…”. Someone has even come to say these kinds of things.



Well, possibly, if you ask this, Mr. Rufián would answer: “I do not know.” The objectives are legitimate, but what is not legitimate is deceiving people.  What do you think about explaining tax sovereignty, Mr. Junqueras (Comment: Then VP of Catalonia now in preventive jail under trial)?   How do you plan to capture taxes collected by the Catalan Tax Office, when this is the responsibility of the Spanish State? So far, you had taken care of keeping with manners, as well as confirming that you would not put Catalans under tax risk, that you would not make them choose. However, now you are offering citizens of this country the possibility of deciding whether they want to be confiscated by the Tax Agency of Catalonia or, instead, prefer to be confiscated by the Spanish state tax agency, since there will be two laws, they will have to pay only in one place and the other will confiscate them. This is what you are considering, at this moment, with this law. And you have solved this with a paragraph where you so calmly say “and the new State will protect citizens against other powers”. How? “I do not know”, Mr. Rufián. Perhaps Mr. Junqueras knows better – maybe Mr. Junqueras knows better. With what fiscal data do you plan to manage such taxes?

In matters of social security, exactly the same applies.   Do you plan subjecting companies, freelancers and home employees to the conflict of deciding whether they will enter their contributions, in the General Treasury of the Social Security of Spain or in the Catalan Social Protection Agency that we have just passed? Should Catalans choose by whom would they prefer to be confiscated of their assets to fulfill their obligations? Are you willing to put at risk those Catalan workers whose contributions made by them to the Catalan Social Protection Agency are not recognized by Spanish state social security? How do you plan to pay pensions? Which is not only and no longer a problem of economic viability, but even a problem of unfeasibility of management.

By the way, why don´t you explain that the social security system, if territorialized, will be born with an annual deficit of 4,000 million euros, approximately? Why not explain this? How will such a deficit be covered? “I do not know”, Mr. Rufián. Well, let’s continue with this “I do not know”. How do you think managing pensions will be done, if you do not have a social security database? Are you thinking about stealing them? No, you are actually thinking about agreeing with the same State from which you have seceded unilaterally. How to do it?; “I do not know.”



And then we continue: courts. You say: “We will replace the Spanish courts by the Catalan” Well, will you tell me how many judges are willing to comply with such a law? And, by the way, as [the friend Xavier Arbós], who has already been quoted, told you, with a model of judicial power much less independent than what we already have today. Perhaps you will build a new country, but a state infinitely worse from this point of view. How to do it? How to make judges and magistrates decide to enforce the law that you say is superior, thanks to this divine command you give them? “I do not know”, Mr. Rufián. Well, well, it´s all the same, all the time.

In court matters, are you thinking about putting at risk the investigation under the National High Court on the (terrorist) attacks of Barcelona and Cambrils, entering into conflicts of competence, because you say that the National High Court will be replaced by a Catalan court? Are you really thinking about doing this? Maybe yes. How? “I do not know”. It is incredible and difficult to understand that political forces that have been installed for decades in the system structures – I am referring to you – and others, which legitimately, like the CUP, pretend to build an alternative political, social and economic system, could be setting up a law that is wet paper.   Does it make sense to approve this? No. Because it will not be applied even if the Constitutional Court did not annul it.

I am finishing. How is it possible that so many people from the party “Junts pel Sí” (comment: ruling coalition in Catalonia), who consider such a law a great political error -and who say so even when not asked about it – have not been able to stop its processing, having gone ahead with the frivolity and the incompetence of these days?

Carme Forcadell: “Mr. Coscubiela, you´ve exhausted your time”.

Joan Coscubiela: “I am finishing; two paragraphs. Are you aware that the great mistake made during these forty-eight black hours with the Mr. Rufián-like ‘I do not know’ strategy is weakening the goals you want to achieve? This is the reason for our democratic belligerence during these forty-eight black hours. We have not managed to explain them here and now. I hope – I hope – that real life will explain them; unfortunately, it will be at the expense of everyone. Thank you very much”.


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