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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.[1]

This Law was approved by referendum 18 June 2006 and supplants the Statute of Sau, which dated from 1979.

Contents

History

In 1919, a first project of Statute was started by the Mancomunitat de Catalunya (the Commonwealth of Catalonia).

In 1928, a project of Constitution was written in Havana by exiled Catalonian nationalists.

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.

In 1979, during the Spanish transition to democracy, the second Statute was approved by referendum.

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 unprecedented low voter turnout well 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.

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Data

  • The 1931 referendum on the Statute of Autonomy registered a voter turnout of 75.13%, of which 99.49% voted favourably to its passing, at least 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.[2]
  • The 2006 referendum on the current version of the Statute registered a voter turnout of 48.85%[3]. 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[4] 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.[5] 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 [1].

Criticism

A number of intellectuals critical of Catalan nationalism have pointed out what they describe as an "identity obsession"[6] amongst most Catalan politicians and the media establishment. They quote the unprecedently 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 left-wing separatists, such as ERC or C.U.P, think that the statute does not give Catalonia sufficient self government. They cite the high abstention as evidence that Catalans desired further self-government but felt disappointed with what the statute offered.

As a result of this trend in opinion, a new political party sprung up Ciutadans - Partido de la Ciudadanía. It entered the Catalan Parliament after the 2006 Catalan Parliament election, held soon after the Statute was passed, gaining three seats and thus becoming the sixth political party with representation in this Parliament.

Legal challenge

The Statute has been legally contested by the surrounding Autonomous Communities of Aragon, Balearic Islands and the Valencian Community[7], as well as by the Partido Popular (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 enshrined by the Constitution in fiscal and educational matters. The Constitutional Court of Spain is currently assessing the constitutionality of the challenged articles and its binding assessment is expected sometime in 2010. [8]

See also

References

External links

Generalitat of Catalonia logo
Politics of Catalonia
Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia series

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