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Q&A on the Catalan transitional law

The legal text gives shape to the first steps of an eventual Catalan state

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28 August 2017 07:09 PM

by

Guifré Jordan | Barcelona

The plan for D-Day+1 in Catalonia is now public. The government is determined to hold a referendum on October 1, and pro-independence lawmakers announced on Monday what will happen the day after should the Yes vote prevail. Together for Yes (JxSí) and CUP members presented the Law of transitional jurisprudence and foundation of the Republic, the official name for a bill meant to provide a provisional constitutional framework until Catalonia passes its own Magna Carta (click here to read the law in Catalan).

It is not clear whether the legislation will even come into effect, as the Spanish government is fiercely opposed to the referendum and will no doubt challenge the legislation in the courts, while the pro-Spanish union parties in Catalonia give the text no validity. But in the hypothetical case that the plan for independence succeeds, what would a new Catalan state look like?

Would Catalonia be a monarchy or a republic?

A democratic republic. This question has created almost no controversy in the pro-independence movement. If the Law were enforced, the Spanish monarchy would immediately lose Catalan territory and see the Kingdom of Spain shrink by around 32,000 km2.

What languages would be official?

Catalan and Spanish, along with the Aranese dialect of Occitan, spoken in the Aran valley.  Despite the long-standing controversy over the possibility that Spanish would lose its current official standing, the language of Cervantes would remain on the same level as Catalan.

Could citizens keep their Spanish nationality?

Yes. The law establishes that Catalonia would accept dual nationality, so citizens could have both Catalan and Spanish passports. However, it says that the Catalan government will have to seek an agreement with Spain over the terms of a treaty of dual nationality.  

When will it be passed in Parliament?

This September. Both JxSí and CUP say that they plan to pass the law this September, along with the referendum law. However, they did not say exactly when.

When would it come into effect?

Two days after the results of the referendum are officially declared, and only if the Yes vote wins. So, 48 hours after the outcome of the referendum, a plenary session would be held in the Catalan parliament to declare independence and the Law would immediately come into effect. If the No vote were to win, this legal text would not become effective.

How long would the law be effective for?

Until Catalonia passes its Constitution as an independent country. The law establishes that a constituent election has to be held within six months of the referendum. The elected representatives will form a so-called constituent assembly, which would be charged with writing a Magna Carta. There is no time limit for this, but both JxSí and CUP think it could be completed in around six months. The Constitution would need the support of 60% of lawmakers, but could still be passed with an absolute majority.

Would EU law still be effective?

According to the bill presented on Monday, yes, along with international law and treaties. Yet, representatives of the pro-Spanish unity parties claim that an independent Catalonia would be automatically expelled from the EU. The Spanish and current Catalan laws will also still be effective, if they do not contradict the law of transitional jurisprudence or future laws approved by the Catalan state.

Who would be the head of state?

The president of Catalonia, once the law comes into force. Thus, if there were no major changes in the coming weeks, Carles Puigdemont would become the first Catalan head of state.

What courts would the new state have?

A Catalan Supreme Court would be the highest court. It would have a courtroom based on democratic guarantees, which would be the equivalent to the current Spanish Constitutional Court. The courts would be obliged to close all cases now open of people who are under investigation or sentenced by Spanish justice for trying to organize a referendum on independence or similar.

What other institutions would be created?  

A Catalan election board, an electoral registry office, the council of democratic guarantees and a prosecution service, among others. Other institutions already created now within the Spanish legal framework would continue, such as the ombudsman, the public audit office, the local councils, the Catalan government and the Parliament.

What would happen to the current public servants?

According to the law, all public servants who work now for the current Catalan or Spanish administrations would stay in their posts but would automatically work for the newly-created state under the same job conditions as now. Nevertheless, they would be free to reject this transfer, but that might mean losing their job.

 

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  • foto_3246051

  • The Catalan parliament (by Pere Francesch)

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