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One of the six Spanish Constitution’s founding fathers criticises the way the reform was carried out

In addition, he warned about an ongoing re-centralisation process, going against the consensus of 1978, and whose next step “will be the electoral reform”, which “will sentence us [Catalan nationalists] as galley slaves”. The day that King Juan Carlos was ratifying with his signature the amendment to the Spanish Constitution, one of the main law’s six founding fathers criticised the reform. Miquel Roca, who represented the views of the Catalan nationalists in 1978 criticised a reform approved only with the support of the two main parties in Spain, both defending centralist stances.

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28 September 2011 01:38 AM

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ACN / Josep Ramon Torné / Gaspar Pericay Coll

Barcelona (ACN).- On Tuesday one of the six founding fathers of the Spanish Constitution of 1978, Miquel Roca, criticised the way the reform was done, as it broke the consensus not only among leftwing and rightwing supporters, but among Spanish nationalists and Catalan nationalists. The day King Juan Carlos was ratifying with his signature the Constitutional amendment, Roca criticised the agreement reached by the two main parties in Spain, the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) \u2013which runs the Spanish Government\u2013 and the People\u2019s Party \u2013very likely to win November\u2019s general elections\u2013. The lawyer and former politician was participating in the fourth edition of the Reflection and Debate Day organised by the prestigious Barcelona-based business school ESADE and the savings banks CatalunyaCaixa in the Monastery of Sant Benet, in Central Catalonia. The Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Competition Joaquín Almunia, the former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González and former Catalan President Jordi Pujol were some of the participants. Roca criticised the PSOE and the PP for excluding other parties, and in particular the Catalan nationalists, whose contribution was essential to approve the Constitution in 1978. According to Miquel Roca, the agreement reached by PSOE and the PP is particularly dangerous for Catalan interests because it is meant to be legitimate. PSOE and the PP, represent most of the Spanish nationalist views and showed that a new legitimate consensus was possible with the recent Constitutional amendment, in Roca\u2019s opinion; a consensus that includes Spanish nationalists but excludes Catalan nationalists and supporters of a decentralised State. Therefore, he warned about an ongoing centralisation process in Spain, going against the Autonomous Community model and the devolution of powers. Roca forecasted the next move that \u201Cwill condemn us as galley slaves\u201D. He predicted that PSOE and the PP will agree on reforming the electoral system, which will reduce significantly the presence of Catalan nationalists in the Spanish Parliament. \u201CThey want to defy us\u201D, said Roca. \u201CThis asks for intelligence and internal cohesion in Catalonia\u201D, he advised.


Miquel Roca, who was one of the six politicians that negotiated and wrote the Spanish Constitution, stated that the Constitutional amendment will have a stronger impact for Catalan interests than the controversial sentence of the Spanish Constitutional Court on the Catalan Statute of Autonomy, in July 2010. According to Roca, the Court\u2019s sentence that trimmed Catalonia\u2019s main law was issued by a \u201Cnon-legitimate Court\u201D, since many magistrates had an expired mandate and had not been renovated. However, the constitutional amendment on the deficit ceiling has a much more legitimate image, since it involves Spain\u2019s two main parties and most MPs. However, it breaks the consensus that made the Constitution of 1978 possible because Catalan nationalists were excluded, as well as other forces, such as former-Communists. Despite these facts, the PSOE and the PP have shown that they can reach a consensus defending centralist stances. \u201CThey wanted to undergo the reform with the [Catalan] nationalists, they wanted to prove that consensus was possible without us\u201D, explained the former politician. Roca warned that the next move of the re-centralisation process will be modifying the electoral system. Roca believes that the reform will marginalise Catalan nationalists, who \u201Cwill be condemned as galley slaves\u201D.

Some voices are claiming for an electoral reform in Spain

Some voices are already talking about an electoral reform in Spain. Minority parties with a presence across Spain, mainly the Communist \u2018Izquierda Unida\u2019 (IU) and the populist and Spanish nationalist \u2018Unión, Progreso y Democracia (UPyD), are demanding an electoral reform that would give them more presence in the Spanish Parliament. Currently they get less MPs than the share of votes they obtain in the elections. Mathematically, the reform needs to be approved with the votes of Spain\u2019s two main parties, the PSOE and the PP, as combined they have around 90% of the MPs. It is thus unlikely they will vote for a reform reducing their number of MPs. Therefore, some in Catalonia start fearing a reform that would reduce the presence of Catalan nationalist parties. In Madrid, some voices are saying that \u201Cnationalists\u201D (only referring to the Catalans or the Basques, but never to the Spanish nationalists), are over-represented. Facts show the latter is not true.

Catalan nationalists are not over-represented, on the contrary

In the last Spanish elections, the main Catalan nationalist party, \u2018Convergència i Unió\u2019 (CiU), got 3.01% of all the votes cast in Spain, and they won 2.86% of the Spanish Parliament\u2019s seats (10 MPs out of 350). The Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party, \u2018Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya\u2019 (ERC), got 1.15% of the votes, and won 0.86% of the seats (3 MPs out of 350). However, the PSOE got 43.59% of the votes and 48.29% of the seats (169 MPs), and the PP got 39.68% of the votes and 44% of the seats (154 MPs). Facts show that Spain\u2019s two main parties are over-represented, and that Catalan nationalist parties, on the contrary, are under-represented.

Furthermore, the Spanish Parliament was designed not only to represent the citizens but also the different territories in Spain. Therefore, some rural and scarcely populated provinces, such as Soria or Ciudad-Real (both in Castile), bring more MPs to the Parliament than, in proportion, Madrid, Barcelona or Tarragona. The system does not privilege provinces for being in Catalonia or the Basque Country, but only for being scarcely populated. The less populated provinces in Spain are far from corresponding to the Catalan or the Basque ones. The ten least populated provinces in Spain are from Castilla-León, Castilla-la-Mancha and Aragon. Therefore the Autonomous Communities over-represented in the Spanish Parliament are those three, and not Catalonia. In a bicameral system, the territories, an notably the so called \u201Chistorical Communities\u201D, would have the Senate to express their concerns. However, there is a wide consensus in Spain that the Senate plays a very minor role in the Spanish political live and that it needs to be reformed (it was one of Prime Minister Zapatero\u2019s promises). The Senate reform never comes, as the two main parties could see their power in the Parliament reduced and peripheral nationalisms would be stronger.

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  • Miquel Roca at the debate day organised by ESADE and CatalunyaCaixa (by J. R. Torné)

  • A view of the room where the debate day organised by ESADE and CatalunyaCaixa took place (by P. Mateos)

  • Miquel Roca at the debate day organised by ESADE and CatalunyaCaixa (by J. R. Torné)
  • A view of the room where the debate day organised by ESADE and CatalunyaCaixa took place (by P. Mateos)