The Spanish Constitutional amendment limiting the public deficit will finally be approved without a referendum thanks to the PSC

The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) decides not to break the Socialists’ unity and not to force a call for a binding referendum on the constitutional amendment. In addition, the PSC rejects the request of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) to include within the Constitution a limitation not only the public deficit but also a limitation on inter-regional fiscal redistribution. Moreover, the CiU stated that it has been excluded from the Constitution’s modification and therefore the Constitutional consensus is now broken.


August 29, 2011 11:25 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- The Spanish Constitution’s amendment limiting the public deficit will only be approved through a parliamentary vote, without a binding referendum as it has been requested by smaller political parties. Finally, the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), which is part of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), decided to give its support to the amendment agreed by the PSOE and the main opposition group, the People’s Party (PP), instead of forcing the call for a binding referendum. In the last few days, voices within the PSOE asking for a binding referendum as opposed to approve the Constitutional amendment only through a parliamentary vote increased. However, the agreement reached between the PSOE’s and the PP’s leaderships excluded the possibility of a referendum. The PSC, which in the Spanish Senate is a member of a different group than the rest of the PSOE, could have voted in favour of a procedural change, thus forcing with its votes a binding referendum. As well as this, the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition ‘Convergència i Unió’ (CiU) had asked during the weekend to take the opportunity of reforming the Constitution not only to include a public deficit limit but also a limit on inter-regional fiscal redistribution. The PSC rejected the CiU’s proposal. Miquel  Iceta, the PSC’s deputy Secretary General, stated that one measure “has nothing to do” with the other. Finally, the CiU stated that it felt excluded from the Constitutional amendment debate. The CiU’s Spokesperson at the Spanish Parliament, Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, warned that the Constitutional consensus had been broken by the PSOE and the PP.

Constitutional consensus broken

According to Duran, as the CiU had been a key player in the 1978 negotiation to  approve the Spanish Constitution, it should have been included in the current reform debate. This is especially poignant considering that it was the CiU’s votes that ensured Prime Minister Zapatero could pass his Deficit Reduction Reform of May 2010 and his Labout Market reform in June 2010. Such reforms were essential in calming the markets in Spring 2010 saving the Eurozone.

The PSC supports the PSOE

This Monday, Miquel Iceta, the PSC’s deputy Secretary General, announced that the party will support the agreement reached between the PP and the PSOE and not force a call for a referendum. Iceta justified their decision saying that “citizens wouldn’t know what they are voting on” due to the technical nature of the amendment and its implications within international financial markets. In addition, Iceta emphasised that the fact that concrete figures have not been included in the amendment, a decisive condition which secured the PSC’s support. The binding referendum had been requested by smaller parties at Spanish level, such as the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) and the Catalan Green Socialist Coalition (ICV-EUiA). Both the CiU and the ICV-EUiA have insisted on the need for a referendum to approve the Constitutional amendment.

No limitation to inter-regional solidarity

The CiU asked over the weekend for the amendment to take the opportunity to include a limitation on the money that a territory gives to other regions in Spain in terms of solidarity. With this limitation, in line with Germany’s Constitutional Court sentencing limiting the money transfers between Lander, richer Spanish Autonomous Communities would have a limit topping the money they give to other territories in terms of inter-regional solidarity. The CiU proposed a 4% limit in contrast to Catalonia's current amount of around 9% of its GDP, equivalent to 18 billion euros. The PSC also rejected the CiU’s proposal and Iceta stated that one measure “has nothing to do” with the other.