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The ‘father of the Constitution’ Miquel Roca states that the text does not ban a self-determination referendum

One of the six ‘fathers’ of the Spanish Constitution, Miquel Roca, who currently leads one of the largest law firms in Spain, stated that the Constitution does not ban a referendum on Catalonia’s self-determination. “It is a matter of political will”, since Catalonia is recognised “as a nationality” by Spain’s main law, stated the respected lawyer, who also used to be a leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU). In front of a committee of the Catalan Parliament, Roca remarked that it would be “absurd” to call for a referendum at Spanish level, as it would only be binding in Catalonia. In the rest of Spain it would not be binding, emphasised Roca, as “it is said in Article 92”. This article reads that non-binding referendums can be called regarding issues of extreme importance.

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15 October 2013 11:24 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- One of the six ‘fathers’ of the Spanish Constitution, Miquel Roca, who currently leads one of the largest law firms in Spain, stated that the Constitution does not ban a referendum on Catalonia’s self-determination. “There is nothing, not a single article” banning a referendum on this issue, stressed Roca, who used to be a leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU). According to the respected lawyer, allowing a referendum on this issue “is a matter of political will”, since Catalonia is recognised “as a nationality” by Spain’s main law, Roca emphasised on Tuesday in front of a committee of the Catalan Parliament. In addition, Roca remarked that it would be “absurd” to call for a referendum at Spanish level, as it would only be binding in Catalonia. In the rest of Spain it would not be binding, he noted; as “it is said in Article 92” he stressed. This article reads that “non-binding referendums can be called regarding issues of extreme importance”. However, Roca also stated that the scenario of breaking up with Spain makes him feel “anguish”.


In front of the Catalan Parliament’s Committee on the Right to Self-Determination, which was formed to analyse legislation and propose a legal framework for holding the self-determination vote, Miquel Roca insisted that the Spanish Constitution does not ban such a vote. Roca was one of the six politicians in charge of negotiating and drafting the Spanish Constitution between 1977 and 1978. The veteran lawyer was clear “nothing”, “not a single article” bans such a vote. “The People have always to be listened to, in this case the Catalan people, and there is not a single article in the constitutional text that can question a fundamental principle, which is that democracy lays on the obligation to listen to the citizens”, he acknowledged. Therefore, making such a vote “not constitutional would be a political decision”, according to him. In addition, authorising it is also a matter of political will.

Catalonia is “recognised as a nationality” by the Constitution

In addition, he criticised how the Spanish Government now denies Catalonia its sovereignty while in the Constitution “it is recognised in a very clear and explicit way as a nationality, which means the pre-existence of the Catalan national fact”, he said. “This means that this fact is not created but its pre-existence is recognised” concluded the Constitutional expert and author of the text.

Furthermore, he criticised the Spanish Government’s decision to take the Catalan Parliament’s Declaration of Sovereignty to the Constitutional Court. “It is a political declaration, not a law or a rule”. “The Constitutional Court cannot assume the censor role; I cannot accept this”, he firmly noted. “They can say they do not like a declaration, but they cannot censor it”, he added. In fact, Roca also criticised the Court for its sentence from 2010 against the Catalan Statute of Autonomy, since “it ended with a flexible interpretation of the Constitution” and it “severely broke the Autonomous Community model”, “which is now exhausted”. Roca added that he was saying this “with sorrow” and “not with satisfaction”.

A binding referendum in Catalonia but not binding in the rest of Spain

In addition, Roca also sent a warning message to the Spanish Government if finally allows a referendum on Catalonia’s independence. Article 92 of the Spanish Constitution foresees the possibility of calling for a referendum in any matter of particular importance but it would not be binding, as it explicitly says so. However, Roca defended that in Catalonia it would be binding, since “everything referring to self-government is binding within Catalonia”, “the Constitution says so”, he highlighted. Therefore, according to him, it would be “absurd” to call for this referendum throughout Spain, since the results from Catalonia would only be the binding ones. Roca urged the Spanish Government to allow a self-determination referendum in Catalonia since “the best way to recognise the silent majority is to give it a voice through a secret vote” in a referendum. However, he also stated that the scenario of breaking up with Spain makes him feel “anguish”.

Roca also acknowledged that “the Spanish State had a base of democratic legitimacy” and this makes more difficult to justify any unilateral break of the system. In fact, the lawyer noted that “breaking episodes” in Catalonia’s history “have not ended well”. However, he did not want to make a formal assessment on the possibility to call for plebiscitary elections or issuing a unilateral declaration of independence.

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  • Miquel Roca, one of the Spanish Constitution's authors, next to Núria de Gispert, President of the Catalan Parliament (by A. Moldes)

  • Miquel Roca, one of the Spanish Constitution's authors, next to Núria de Gispert, President of the Catalan Parliament (by A. Moldes)