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The Catalan Socialists propose an “asymmetrical federalism” for Spain

The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) is against independence but supports claims for greater self-government and fiscal autonomy for Catalonia. The PSC’s Secretary General, Pere Navarro, proposes a “preferential bilateral relationship” between Catalonia and the Spanish Government, within an “asymmetrical” federal Spain. However, the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), which is formed by federated territorial parties such as the PSC, seems to evade the question, at least for the time being. The PSOE’s Secretary General visited Catalonia for the first time after the 1.5 million strong demonstration for independence and did not mention the word “federalism” a single time.

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18 September 2012 01:41 PM

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ACN / Rafa Garrido / Gaspar Pericay Coll

Barcelona (ACN).- After last week\u2019s 1.5 million strong demonstration for Catalonia\u2019s independence from Spain, there is the general understanding that it represented a milestone in the relationship between Catalonia and Spain. The Catalan and the Spanish political arenas are trying to find a speech to react to this new reality. On Monday, the Secretary General of Catalonia\u2019s main opposition party, the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), gave a conference in Barcelona in which he proposed a \u201Cpreferential bilateral relationship\u201D between Catalonia and Spain, through the formula of an \u201Casymmetrical federalism\u201D. Pere Navarro proposed \u201Cto reformulate\u201D the \u201Cconstitutional agreement\u201D from 1977 by which the Catalan Government was restored. This agreement was prior to the Spanish Constitutional\u2019s pact, from 1978, which later gave rise to the 17 Autonomous Communities. Navarro stated that \u201Cthe people of Catalonia are asking for being able to decide [on their own future]. In order to do that the agreement by which Catalonia recovered its autonomy needs to be renovated; the constitutional agreement of the Catalan autonomy, prior to the agreement of the [Spanish] Constitution\u201D. However, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, the Secretary General of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), which is formed by federated territorial parties such as the PSC, does not seem to agree with Navarro\u2019s proposal. After the demonstration, Navarro asked the PSOE to embrace federalism and work for a reformulation of the Spanish State. Several voices have asked for the same thing on Spanish media. However, on Sunday, Rubalcaba visited Catalonia for the first time after the demonstration and he did not mention the word \u201Cfederalism\u201D a single time in his speech. The PSOE\u2019s proposal seems to be an adjustment of the current status quo, starting with Spain\u2019s current fiscal redistribution scheme.


On Monday, the PSC Secretary General, Pere Navarro, stated in front of an audience made of businesspeople that for him \u201Cthere is only one way and it is named \u2018federalism\u2019\u201D. In fact, the PSC has traditionally defended a federal Spain, with the recognition of Catalonia\u2019s national status within the Spanish State. In the weeks before the demonstration, which it already seemed would be massive, Navarro remarked that the PSC has been proposing \u201Ca federal Spain\u201D for the last years and was not supporting the independence. Therefore, the PSC was not officially attending last week\u2019s massive demonstration, but some of its members did so, at a personal level. Navarro did not demonstrate.

Pere Navarro defended \u201Cthe recognition of Catalonia\u2019s national status through a preferential bilateral relationship\u201D with the Spanish Government on Monday. This way, according to Navarro, there would be a \u201Cconsolidation of a high level of self-government and Catalonia\u2019s direct participation in the formation of the Spanish State\u2019s will\u201D. For Navarro, this means to retake the spirit of the 1977 agreement, which was a \u201Cconstitutional agreement\u201D as it restored Catalonia\u2019s self-government before the Spanish Constitution \u2013 which was approved in 1978. \u201CThat was a truly federal agreement, based on the union in freedom\u201D, stated Navarro.

For the PSC\u2019s Secretary General, Spain needs to reformulate its state structure, a normal process for any country. In fact, Navarro insisted on the normality of the process. \u201CEven some people within the People\u2019s Party (PP) want to reformulate the Spanish State\u201D, said Navarro. \u201CTo build a federal state, we need to make sure that those who constitute this state feel comfortable in it. In Spain there are Autonomous Communities that want greater self-government levels, while others want the opposite\u201D, he said. Therefore, an \u201Casymmetrical federalism\u201D is needed to solve the situation, in which there would be different levels of autonomy.

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  • The PSC's Secretary General, Pere Navarro, on Monday (by R. Garrido)

  • The PSC's Secretary General, Pere Navarro, on Monday (by R. Garrido)