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The King's succession process will not have the explicit support from Catalan nationalists

The Centre-Right pro-Catalan State Coalition, Convergència i Unió (CiU), which runs the Catalan Government and was an essential part of Spain's Transition from dictatorship to democracy, will not vote in favour of the law regulating the King's abdication. The CiU, which has played a crucial role in Spanish politics, has decided to abstain in the Spanish Parliament's vote, in line with its support of Catalonia's self-determination process. All other Catalan parties are expected to oppose the succession process, with the exception of the Catalan socialist Party (PSC) –part of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) – and the Catalan branch of the People's Party (PP). In his first speech after his father's abdication announcement, the soon-to-be Felipe VI promised "to serve […] our beloved Spain", "a nation, a political and social community, united, diverse, which deepens its root in a millenary history".

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04 June 2014 08:41 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The Centre-Right pro-Catalan State Coalition, Convergència i Unió (CiU), which runs the Catalan Government and was an essential part of Spain's Transition from dictatorship to democracy, will not vote in favour of the law regulating the King's abdication. The CiU, which has also been a key party in guaranteeing Spain's governance in the 1990s and in approving crucial reforms, announced on Wednesday that it has decided to abstain in the Spanish Parliament's vote. After two days of internal debates, the CiU has chosen to be coherent with its support of Catalonia's self-determination process and to break 37 years of continuous and explicit support of the monarchy. All other Catalan parties are expected to oppose the succession process since they defend a republican regime. The only exceptions are those which belong to Spain's two largest parties: the Catalan socialist Party (PSC) – which is part of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) – and the Catalan branch of the People's Party (PP) – which runs the Spanish Government. Therefore, the King's succession process will not be explicitly backed by Catalan nationalist parties and will only receive the support of Spanish nationalism, with the affirmative votes of the PP, PSOE and the populist and centralist UPyD. Notably, on Wednesday morning, in his first speech after his father's abdication announcement, the soon-to-be Felipe VI promised "to serve […] our beloved Spain", "a nation, a political and social community, united, diverse, which deepens its root in a millenary history". If Felipe does not recognise Spain's pluri-national nature, with the existence of the Catalan and Basque nations, it is very unlikely Catalonia's independence claims will fade away.


On Wednesday morning the CiU announced it would abstain in the vote of the new law regulating King Juan Carlos' abdication, an essential legal step in order to proceed with the coronation of Felipe VI. However, this is not a random vote and neither a random abstention. The Transition from dictatorship to democracy, the governance of Spain in important moments and the approval of crucial reforms and measures during the last four decades were backed by the CiU. In fact, the conservative and moderate Catalan nationalists have been a pillar of the Spanish democratic system for the last 4 decades and an essential ingredient of the so-called Constitutional consensus.

However, for a large part of Catalan society and the CiU, the Constitutional Consensus was broken with the Constitutional Court's ruling against the Catalan Statute of Autonomy in 2010 – which trimmed Catalonia's main law approved 4 years earlier in a binding referendum by the Catalan people. In addition, when the PSOE and PP decided to amend the Constitution in August 2011 to include limitations on public deficit and debt, they did not negotiate the reform with the CiU. In that moment, the CiU officially confirmed that the Constitutional Consensus had effectively been broken. Now, the CiU has been excluded from the limited group of parties that discussed the King's abdication and the succession process.

The new King is only explicitly backed by Spanish nationalists: the Constitutional Consensus died

Therefore, now, when Spain is about to change its Head of State in the middle of a deep economic, social and political crisis, the main representative of Catalonia's bourgeoisie will not give its explicit adhesion to the regime. Obviously, the decision is very much linked to Catalonia's self-determination process, which is fully backed by the CiU and blocked by the Spanish establishment. Since the conservative and moderate Basque nationalists from the PNV will also abstain, the King's succession process will only be backed by the main representatives of Spanish nationalism: the PP, the PSOE and the small UPyD. The PP and PSOE MPs from Catalonia will be the only Catalan ones explicitly backing Felipe VI. This will once again certify that the Constitutional Consensus from 1978 died a while ago.

PM Minister Rajoy criticises the CiU

On Wednesday afternoon, the Spanish Prime Minister and leader of the PP, Mariano Rajoy, criticised the CiU for not giving its support to the Abdication Law. Rajoy pretended to be surprised by the CiU's decision and stated that he had not bypassed the Catalan coalition while planning the Crown's succession. The Spanish PM referred to the CiU and he stated that this is not the time "to play small politics". In addition, he praised the PSOE's "serious and exemplary attitude", and its "concept of statesmanship".

However, as opposed to the times of the Democratic Transition, the CiU was not involved in this crucial episode of Spain's modern history. The King's abdication was somehow consulted with the PP and the opposition party PSOE, but not with Basque and Catalan parties. The regime born after Franco was based in the instauration of democracy but also in the full recognition of Spain's diversity. It was supposed to gradually recognise its pluri-national nature when democracy would have been consolidated. Instead, it did the contrary, with the rise of Spanish nationalism in the last decade and with a deep discredit of Spain's democratic regime and institutions, including the Crown and the separation of powers principle.

The future Felipe VI talks about a "united" and "diverse […] Spanish nation"

Neither the King of Spain, nor the Crown Prince or the Royal family are supposed to express a political ideology, according to the Constitution. They are supposed to be totally neutral and do not enter into the political debate. However, in his first speech after his father announced his abdication, the future King Felipe VI talked about a "united" Spain, referring to "a nation". Two days ago, in the abdication speech, King Juan Carlos also talked about "the Spanish nation". The problem in this case is not reaffirming the existence of the Spanish nation, but forgetting about the existence of other nations, such as the Catalan and the Basque ones. Spanish nationalism has been built on denying the existence of others nations and trying to impose Spanish language, culture and identity throughout Spain.

The Spanish Constitution states that Spain is formed of "nationalities and regions", as a compromise formula agreed with the military and Franco regime in 1978 to recognise Catalonia's, the Basque Country's and Galicia's nationhood statuses. It was understood that with the consolidation of democracy, this recognition would be more explicit and Spain could openly identify itself as "a nation of nations". However, this did not happen. Now, the future King promised "to allocate all his strengths, with hope and joy, to the exciting task to serve the Spaniards, our beloved Spain", which is "a nation, a social and political community, united, diverse, which deepens its roots in a millenary history". If Felipe VI does not recognise the Catalan nation, a large part of Catalonia's people will never back him and recognise him as their king.

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  • The future King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia at an event on Wednesday (by Gobierno de Navarra)

  • The future King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia at an event on Wednesday (by Gobierno de Navarra)