Substituting the “Statute of Sau” dated from 1979, and after having been democratically approved by the Catalan regional parliament as well as by the Spanish national parliament, Catalonia’s new autonomy statute (the “Estatut”; the Catalan regional constitution) was approved in referendum by the Catalan citizens on 18 June 2006 and enacted two days later by the Head of State, King Juan Carlos I, with the following header: “Know: That the Cortes Generales [Spanish national parliament] have approved, the citizens of Catalonia have ratified in referendum, and I come to sanction the following Organic Law“. But Spain’s main opposition party—the right-wing Popular Party (PP; Partido Popular)—challenged the Estatut’s legitimacy and appealed to Spain’s Constitutional Court arguing that 114 of its 233 articles were unconstitutional and that it would jeopardize the unity of the state.
On Monday, 28 June 2010—more than four years after its enactment by King Juan Carlos I—the Constitutional Court endorsed the vast majority of the Estatut’s articles, declaring 14 of them unconstitutional and changing 23 others. Considering the huge difference between the 114 articles they claimed to be unconstitutional, and the 14 deemed to be so by the Constitutional Court, many commentators see this ruling as a slap in the PP’s face. Nevertheless, Catalan parties don’t see this as a victory for Catalonia. The indignation among the Catalan society is huge, as the 14 articles declared unconsitutional are considered a significant trim in Catalonia’s self-rule aspirations in important areas such as Catalan language, justice and taxation. The president of Catalonia’s regional parliament, Ernest Benach, said that the ruling will lead to a crisis of state, as it ignores the will that the Catalan citizens expressed during the referendum. And considering that there will be elections in Catalonia in fall, the ruling indeed comes in a delicate point in time. Many commentators argue that with the Constitutional Court’s decision of truncating the Estatut, the door for Catalonia’s comfortable existence within Spain was shut, and that there’s only one way ahead—Independence from Spain. The political parties in Catalonia are preparing for the regional elections to be held in fall, and the ruling will certainly influence their campaigns and the results. A rise in independentist and nationalist votes can undoubtably be expected.
Image: © bernatff (found on Flickr.com)
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