Catalan moderate nationalists warn that a great clash with unforeseeable consequences is about to happen

Meanwhile, the Catalan Government, run by the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition ‘Convergència i Unió’ (CiU), announces its own law on budget stability. The CiU feels excluded from the reform of the Spanish Constitution to limit public deficit, especially as they had been one of the key actors when negotiating and approving the Constitution in 1978. The CiU’s Spokesperson warned that, since “the Constitutional consensus” had been broken by the PP and the PSOE, “a great clash with unforeseeable and undesired consequences will happen” if nothing changes.


August 30, 2011 11:10 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- The express reform of the Spanish Constitution, which was solely negotiated between the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) – the ruling party– and the People’s Party (PP) –the main opposition party– started its parliamentary procedure this Tuesday. Therefore, the rest of parties feel excluded, in particular the Catalan moderate nationalist party, the Centre-Right ‘Convergència i Unió’ (CiU), which has supported key reforms in Spain –such as the Labour Market Reform or the Deficit Reduction measures adopted in May 2010. In addition, the CiU’s role was essential in negotiating and approving the Constitution after Franco’s Fascist dictatorship. For all of these reasons, the CiU’s Spokesperson to the Spanish Parliament and the party’s number two, Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, warned this Tuesday before the plenary that “the Constitutional consensus was broken”, as the PSOE and the PP had excluded the other parties and agreed on a matter that affects all public administrations, including the Autonomous Communities. In addition, Duran warned that if what is being approved is not modified, as it limits the capacity of Autonomous Communities, “a great clash with unforeseeable consequences will finally happen”, causing “consequences that are not wanted by any of us”. The fact of the matter is that the CiU is convinced that Catalonia’s fiscal autonomy is threatened by the reform, and considers Constitution reform to be working for a re-centralisation of Spain. As a protest, the CiU refused to attend this Tuesday’s voting on the Constitutional amendment. “If they [PSOE and PP] do everything among themselves” the CiU will not participate, said Duran. The Catalan Government, also run by CiU, frontally opposes the reform and has announced its own budget stability law.

If everything goes as expected, the Constitutional amendment will be approved this September, only a month after it was proposed and discussed for the first time by the Spanish Government. Despite internal criticism within the PSOE for not ratifying the Constitution’s amendment through a referendum, the PSOE and the PP decided to reform article 135 of the Constitution through a parliamentary procedure, only negotiating this reform between themselves. Since both parties have by far the largest number of MPs, mathematically they do not need other political groups to pass the amendment limiting the public deficit in all Spanish administrations. However, neither party represents the entire political spectrum as both tend to have a centralist vision of Spain, not fully accepting Spain’s plurality. In addition, when the Constitution was approved in 1978, the PSOE and the PP were not the main parties in Spain. Therefore, other parties, in particular the CiU, feel excluded. In addition, the CiU fears that Catalonia’s fiscal autonomy is in danger and that the PP and the PSOE are undergoing a hidden re-centralisation, with the excuse of limiting public deficit because of the pressure of the international financial markets. The Catalan Government, also run by the CiU, frontally opposes this amendment and the way it is being approved, and has announced its own budget stability law.

The Catalan Parliament to approve a budget stability law

This Tuesday, while the Spanish Parliament was debating the Constitution amendment limiting the public deficit which was negotiated and agreed upon only between the PSOE and the PP, the Catalan Government was meeting for the first time after the summer break. Its Spokesperson, Francesc Homs, announced that the Government will bring to the Catalan Parliament a budget stability law that should be approved before the Spanish one. “We want decisions to come from within the [Catalan] Parliament, which is what we had been doing for the last 30 years”, emphasised Homs. The Catalan Executive’s Spokesperson underlined that the Catalan budget stability law “will be approved as soon as possible”, “if we are able to, before the end of the year”.

Homs criticised the way the Constitutional amendment was being approved, and questioned if such measure will be actually more useful than taking concrete spending reduction measures now and approving a budget stability law. Homs said that international financial markets appreciate the Catalan Government’s current budget, with its real effort to cut public spending, and he criticised the public deficit limit included in the Spanish Constitution which will enter into force in 2020. According to the Catalan Government’s Spokesperson, measures taken and entering into force now, such as the spending cuts already approved and in place, generate more trust and credibility in the international financial markets.