Parliament approves a “democratic unilateral mechanism” to split from Spain

Date: 27.07.2016

Author: Sara Prims

Source: CNA

The Catalan Chamber approved this Wednesday the conclusions of the Committee to Study the Constitutive Process, which established the next steps in Catalonia’s pro-independence process. The pro-independence forces in the Parliament, governing cross-party list ‘Junts Pel Sí’ and radical left CUP, which represent a majority of 72 MPs in the 135-seat Catalan Parliament, voted in favour of the conclusions, while alternative left alliance ‘Catalunya Sí que es Pot’ voted against. The Spanish Socialist Party (PSC) refused to vote and Spanish Unionist ‘Ciutadans’ and the Conservative People’s Party (PP) expressed their rejection by leaving the Chamber before the vote. One of the most controversial points approved by the Parliament foresees launching a “democratic unilateral mechanism which will allow the calling of the Constitutive Assembly”, the body which will be responsible for writing the Catalan Constitution. Thus, the Parliament has ignored the Spanish Constitutional Court (TC)’s warnings that called for impeding any action regarding the constitutive process of a Catalan republic. 

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Thus, ‘Junts Pel Sí’ and CUP have agreed on the further steps to take regarding Catalonia’s pro-independence roadmap. The first phase of the “Constitutive Process” foresees holding a participative process to engage as many citizens as possible. This ‘Constitutive Social Forum’, formed by political parties and civil society organisations, will discuss the content of the Catalan Constitution, according to the proposals emerged from a participative process amongst the citizens.

The key point is in the second phase. Here, both parties established that the “disconnection process from Spain’s legal system will be accomplished when the Parliament will pass the three laws of disconnection”, one on social measures, a second on the Catalan tax office and a third on the legal transition, and also by putting forth a “democratic and unilateral mechanism which will allow the calling of the Constitutive Assembly”. Thus, the document leaves the way open for a unilateral referendum on independence, a proposal first suggested by CUP, or for any other similar procedure which wouldn’t require the Spanish state’s approval. To reinforce the “unilateral” character of the process, the document agreed upon establishes that “the laws of disconnection are not subject to control, suspension or impugnation from any other statement or court”.

Finally, the last stage foresees that once the ‘Constitutive Assembly’  passes the Constitution draft there will be “a constitutional referendum for the citizens to pass or reject the text in a peaceful and democratic way”. The conclusions also establish that the Parliament “endorses” the Constitutive Process and therefore “urges the Government to put at the citizen’s disposal the necessary resources for the discussion to start”. Moreover, the document foresees the creation of a “commission to do the ‘Constitutive Process’ follow up”.

‘Junts Pel Sí’: The Catalan Chamber complies with a democratic mandate

Before putting the conclusions to vote, the Parliament discussed the conclusions of the Committee to Study the Constitutive Process. ‘Junts Pel Sí MP, Marta Rovira insisted that the Catalan Chamber “is legitimated” to put forward these conclusions, since they emerge from the democratic mandate of the 27-S elections. “We will continue to do our work based on a democratic mandate rather than a concrete resolution by the TC”, she stated.

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Rovira also explained that the Constitutive Process of the Catalan Republic “has to be society-wide, with a citizens’ base, and must have the endorsement of the institutions”. She also lamented that ‘Catalunya Sí que es Pot’ voted against the conclusions, despite having taken an active role in the Committee. “The status quo could never by changed by asking for permission”, she stated addressing this group, which have repeatedly insisted on the need to negotiate a solution with the Spanish State.

The rest of the parties in the Parliament rejected the conclusions

‘Catalunya Sí que es Pot’ voted against the conclusions, despite taking part in the Committee to Study the Constitutive Process. MP Joan Coscubiela considered this Wednesday’s vote “the first chapter of the vote of confidence” which Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, will submit himself to on the 28th of September. “This is the alibi for CUP to justify their support for Puigdemont”, he added.

However, the fiercest criticism came from ‘Ciutadans’ and PP, the parties in the Parliament which are most opposed to Catalonia’s independence. PP’s spokesman in the Catalan Chamber, Xavier Garcia Albiol, considered the vote on the conclusions of the Committee to Study the Constitutive Process “a farce” and warned the Catalan Government that “this will not come at zero cost since the Rule of Law will take action” and will do so “rather sooner than later”.

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The leader of the opposition, Inés Arrimadas, described this Wednesday as “a sad day for democracy” since the vote was “an insult to the separation of powers” and insisted that the conclusions were against the will of the majority of Catalan society.

Regarding PSC, which refused to vote but remained in their seats, MP Miquel Iceta stated that any initiative of a unilateral nature “promotes division amongst Catalans”. He also expressed his doubts regarding the creation of the Constitutive Assembly, which “once convened, elected and constituted will have full powers”. Iceta also lamented that the conclusions of the Committee to Study the Constitutive Process were “not representative” since some groups in the Committee didn’t take part in them. According to Iceta, the conclusions only aim to “foster a direct confrontation between the Parliament and the TC”.

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