Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia
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The Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia provides Catalonia's basic institutional regulations. It defines the rights and obligations of the citizens of Catalonia (Spain), the political institutions of the Catalan nationality, their competences and relations with the rest of Spain, and the financing of the Government of Catalonia.
Catalonia first obtained a Statute of Autonomy in 1932, during the Second Spanish Republic. This law was abolished by General Francisco Franco after the Spanish Civil War, largely because Catalonia had been a region generally opposed to Franco's Nacionales forces. During periods of his rule, public usage of the Catalan language and culture, and more specifically, Catalan self-government were harshly suppressed.
On June 18, 2006, a referendum amending the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia of 1979 to further expand the authority of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Catalonia's government, was approved, and became effective on 9 August 2006.
This referendum was noted for its voter turnout being below 50%. It was also noted for its uneasy forging, since tensions regarding its final edit within the coalition government which originally promoted the Statute led to an early regional election in 2006.
On September 30, 2005, the Catalan Parliament approved (with the support of 120 deputies to 15) a proposal for reform of the current Statute of Autonomy. The approved proposal was sent for review and discussion to the Cortes Generales (Spain's parliament) on November 2, 2005.
After receiving the proposal drafted by the Catalan regional parliament, on November 2, 2005 the Spanish Congress of Deputies approved the admission to formality of the Proposal for reform of the new Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia with the support of all the groups except the People's Party (PP). The latter filed an objection of unconstitutionality before the Constitutional Court of Spain, currently in process. Its constitutionality has also been contested by some intellectuals and journalists related to liberal or conservative media such as the COPE (Catholic radio network) and the Madrid-based newspapers El Mundo and La Razón.
On January 21, 2006, Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Catalonian Leader of the Opposition Artur Mas arrived at a pre-agreement about nation definition and financing in the current project of statute.
On May 10, 2006, the amended text  passed through its final reading through both Houses of the Parliament, with the support of all parties except both the Spanish main opposition party, the conservative People's Party, and the Catalan separatist party Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya. The latter voted against the project in the Spanish Congress of Deputies but abstained in the Senate (to avoid a blocking vote). ERC voted against it—despite its senior members having had a hand in drafting its content—as a result of the internal tensions within the party which this issue had brought to the surface. Later on both parties, for opposite reasons, supported a no vote in the referendum held afterwards regarding the passing of the new Statute.
The president of Catalonia, M. Hon. Pasqual Maragall, decided that Sunday June 18 would be the date on which the text would be put to the Catalan people in the form of a referendum. The referendum approved the Statute, the "yes" side receiving 74% of votes cast. Voter turnout was 49.41% of the total electorate, an unprecedentedly low figure for this type of vote. The new Statute has been in force since August 9, 2006
- The 1931 referendum on the Statute of Autonomy registered a voter turnout of 75.13%, of which 99.49% voted favourably to its passing, according to the official results released.
- The 1979 referendum on the Statute of Autonomy registered a voter turnout of 59.7%, of which 88.1% voted favorably.
- The 2006 referendum on the current version of the Statute registered a voter turnout of 48.85%. Of the total votes, 73.24% were in favour of the new Statute, while 20.57% were against.
Self-government under the statute
Catalonia is an Autonomous Community within the Kingdom of Spain, with the status of historical region in the Spanish Constitution of 1978. In September 2005, the Parliament of Catalonia approved the definition of Catalonia as a 'nation' in the preamble of the new Statute of Autonomy (autonomous basic law). The 120 delegates of all parties (CiU, PSC, ERC, ICV-EA) with the exception of the 15 delegates of the Partido Popular approved this definition. In the opinion of the Spanish Government this has a 'declaratory' but not a 'legal' value, since the Spanish Constitution recognises the indissoluble "unity of the Spanish Nation".
The Generalitat de Catalunya is the institution in which the self-government of Catalonia is politically organised. It consists of the Parliament, the President of the Generalitat and the Executive Council or Government of Catalonia.
The Statute of Autonomy gives the Generalitat of Catalonia the powers which enable it to carry out the functions of self-government. These can be exclusive, concurrent and shared with the Spanish State or executives. The Generalitat holds jurisdiction in various matters of culture, education, health, justice, environment, communications, transportation, commerce, public safety and local governments. Catalonia has its own police force, the Mossos d'Esquadra, although the Spanish government keep agents in the region for matters relating to border control, terrorism and immigration.
Most of the justice system is administered by Spanish judicial institutions. The legal system is uniform throughout Spain, with the exception of so-called "civil law", which is administered separately within Catalonia.
The political parties in favor of Spanish nationalism, such as C's and PP have pointed out what they describe as an "identity obsession" amongst Catalan nationalist politicians and the Catalan media establishment. They quote the unprecedentedly high abstention in the referendum regarding the Statute as a symptom of those cited sectors being out of synch with the populace at large. On the opposite side, Catalan nationalists, such as CiU, Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) or C.U.P, think that the Statute does not give Catalonia sufficient self-government after it was modified by the Constitutional Court of Spain. They claim the Statute that was brought to referendum differed substantially from the one the Constitutional Court delivered on points considered key by these parties, starting the first massive Catalan demonstrations in favor of the Catalan independence.
Legal challenge & the Catalans' response
The Statute has been legally contested by the surrounding Autonomous Communities of Aragon, Balearic Islands and the Valencian Community, as well as by the Partido Popular (at the time the main opposition party at the Spanish Parliament). The objections are based on various topics such as disputed cultural heritage but, especially, on the Statute's alleged breaches of the "solidarity between regions" principle in fiscal and educational matters enshrined by the Spanish Constitution of 1978.
The Catalan political arena largely viewed this debate as a sort of cultural war waged by "Spanish nationalists" (espanyolistes in Catalan). In response, four of the six political parties in the Catalan parliament—Convergence and Union, the Catalan Socialists, Republican Left of Catalonia, and Catalan green party—and that represented 88% of the popular vote reached an agreement to fight together at the Spanish Senate to reform the Constitutional Court of Spain, and hopefully nullify the possibility of an overturn of the Catalan Statute of Autonomy. This pact was particularly interesting because, aside from the fact that they all pertain to various degrees of Catalan nationalism, the four parties differ greatly in political ideology, and together, they form nearly 80% of the Catalan Parliament. However, this attempt was largely unsuccessful.
After four years of deliberations, the Constitutional Court of Spain assessed the constitutionality of the challenged articles and its binding assessment was released on June 28 of 2010. By a 6 to 4 majority, the Court's justices rewrote 14 articles and dictated the interpretation for 27 more, mainly relating to language, justice and fiscal policy. The judgement reassured that the term "nation" used in the preamble has no legal standing. It left without effect any of the legal clauses that could have guaranteed a true measure of self-government for Catalonia. It also abolished all the mechanisms that had been put in place to minimize the distortionary effects of the existing Spanish tax and transfer system. The legitimacy of the decision has been widely questioned in Catalonia: the term of three of the twelve members of the Court had already expired when a decision had been made; a fourth member had died and the Spanish Parliament had not appointed any successor.
Following the decision of the Constitutional Court, Catalan public opinion grew increasingly favorable to hold a referendum to decide whether Catalonia should become an independent state from Spain. By September 2013, polls show different numbers according to the surveyor. According to the Spanish Agency (Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas), there would be 40,6% of Catalans in favor of independence and 25.7% in favor of achieving more self-government, while 17,6% would be happy in the current situation and 9,1% of them would prefer to have less autonomy. According to the Catalan Agency (Centre d'Estudis d'Opinió), in the event of a referendum there would be 55,6% of Catalans in favor of independence and 23,4% of them voting against it. The remaining percentages in either poll are still undecided.
- Generalitat de Catalunya
- Autonomous communities of Spain
- Spanish transition to democracy
- Statute of Autonomy
- 2010 Catalan autonomy protest
- "Official web of the Generalitat de Catalunya". Gencat.net. 2006-06-18. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
- Paco Soto/Barcelona (1997-12-01). "Hoy Digital | NACIONAL – El nuevo Estatut catalán cosecha el menor respaldo de la historia". Hoy.es. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
- "Reacciones políticas al "Sí" de los catalanes al Estatut empañado por el bajo índice de participación". 20minutos.es. 2006-06-18. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
- Preamble of the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, Generalitat of Catalonia
- "Competencies of the Generalitat – Official web". Gencat.net. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
- "Legislació civil catalana". Civil.udg.es. 2006-07-20. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
- "Euforia entre los simpatizantes de Ciutadans por la entrada en el Parlament". elmundo.es. 2006-09-16. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
- "El Constitucional amputa parte del Estatut". publico.es. 2006-06-29. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
- "CiU tilda de 'gravísima' la 'situación generada por la sentencia' del Estatut". elmundo.es. 2010-06-28. Retrieved 2013-09-14.
- "Masiva manifestación en Barcelona en apoyo al Estatut y contra el Constitucional". elmundo.es. 2010-07-10. Retrieved 2013-09-14.
- Europa Press/Madrid (1997-12-01). "Admitidos los recursos de Aragón, Valencia y Baleares contra el Estatuto catalán.". hoy.es. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
- "Tripartit i CiU pacten una proposta per reformar el TC i aturar la sentència sobre l'Estatut". Avui.cat. 2010-05-18. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
- El TC rebaja las aspiraciones de Catalunya en lengua, justicia y tributos catalanes, La Vanguardia 2010-06-28
- "El 40% de los catalanes quiere la independencia, según el CIS". elmundo.es. 2013-07-10. Retrieved 2013-09-14.
- "La independencia ganaría por un 55% según el CEO". elPeriodico.com. 2013-06-20. Retrieved 2013-09-14.
- Full text of the 2006 Statute (in PDF)
- Full text of the 2006 Statute
- Catalonia endorses autonomy plan BBC News. 19 June 2006.
- Text of the 2005 Proposal for reform of the new Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia (in PDF)
- The controversial reform of the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia