The Spanish Government challenges the Catalan declaration of sovereignty before the Constitutional Court
The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, accused the Spanish Government of “not having the true will to talk” about Catalonia’s self-determination claims, backed by democratically-expressed ballots. After the weekly Cabinet Meeting, the Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, confirmed that the Spanish Government will take the Catalan Parliament’s declaration, which states that the Catalan people are sovereign to freely and democratically decide on their collective future and therefore organise a self-determination vote, to the Constitutional Court. The Spanish Government justified its decision by stating that the declaration – with no direct legal impact – might have legal consequences and wants the Court to “clarify that the Catalan people are not sovereign”.
Madrid (ACN).- After Friday\u2019s weekly Cabinet Meeting, the Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, confirmed that the Spanish Government will take the Catalan Parliament\u2019s declaration to the Constitutional Court, which states that the Catalan people are sovereign to freely and democratically decide on their collective future and therefore organise a self-determination vote. Sáenz de Santamaría justified the decision by stating that the declaration \u2013 with no direct legal impact \u2013 might have legal consequences and wants the Court to \u201Cclarify that Catalan people are not sovereign\u201D. The Spanish Government backs its interpretation in a report issued by its own legal services and a second one issued by the State Council, an archaic advisory body made up of some 35 senior members mostly from Madrid\u2019s nomenclature and whose only Catalan member was part of this body even in Franco\u2019s time. However, two of members of the State Council \u2013 one of them being one of the seven founding fathers of the Spanish Constitution - advised against bringing the Catalan Declaration to the Constitution Court, as this would \u201Cnot be the most adequate way to reach a constructive solution\u201D. In this vein, the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, accused the Spanish Government of \u201Cnot having the true will to talk\u201D about Catalonia\u2019s self-determination claims, which are backed by democratically-expressed ballots and a wide majority of the Catalan Parliament. Saénz de Santamaría stated that the Spanish Government is not challenging the declaration because of a lack of the will to talk, but because its \u201Cobligation is to make the laws be obeyed\u201D.
One of the Constitution\u2019s seven founding fathers does not support challenging the declaration
The Spanish Government is basing its decision on a report issued on Thursday by the State Council, which analysed whether the Catalan declaration request of the Spanish Executive is constitutional. The report recommends challenging the declaration in order to clarify whether it does not have any legal value and that the Catalan people are not sovereign. However, the report includes two particular votes against the decision to bring the Catalan declaration to the Constitutional Court. They are made by Fernando Ledesma, a Justice Minister in the 1980s in Felipe González cabinet, and by Miguel Herrero y Rodríguez de Miñón, one of the seven founding fathers of the Spanish Constitution. The latter has warned the Spanish Government that taking the declaration to the Constitutional Court would \u201Cnot be the most adequate way to reach a constructive solution\u201D. Herrero y Rodríguez de Miñón explicitly asks the Spanish Government to seek a political consensus with the Catalan institutions, because it is \u201Cthe only effective base for constitutional stability\u201D. Besides, Ledesma considers the declaration to be \u201Ca parliamentary tool for the impulse of political action in Catalonia\u201D and \u201Cit does not have the judicial nature of a rule\u201D. Therefore, there would not be the need to challenge it because it does not have any legal impact.
The Catalan declaration of sovereignty
On the 23rd of January, the Catalan Parliament approved a \u2018Declaration of sovereignty and the right to self-determination by the people of Catalonia\u2019, following the electoral mandate of three parties: the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) and the Catalan Green Socialist and Communist Coalition (ICV-EUiA). In fact, they also approved a similar declaration in July, which already underlined Catalonia\u2019s right to self-determination. The January declaration stated that the \u201Csovereignty of the people of Catalonia\u201D and the consequent \u201Cright to decide on their collective future\u201D, \u201Cfollowing the principles\u201D of \u201Csovereignty\u201D, \u201Cdemocratic legitimacy\u201D, \u201Ctransparency\u201D, \u201Cdialogue\u201D, \u201Csocial cohesion\u201D, \u201CEuropeanism\u201D, \u201Clegality\u201D, the \u201Cmain role of the Parliament\u201D and \u201Cparticipation\u201D. The declaration emphasised Catalonia\u2019s historical reasons and the current political situation, with a significant majority of Catalan citizens having \u201Cexpressed their desire to overcome the current blocked situation within the Spanish State\u201D. The declaration received 85 \u201Cyes\u201D votes, 41 \u201Cno\u201D votes and 2 abstentions at the Catalan Parliament. Therefore it was supported by 66.4% of the MPs who voted, representing 63% of the 135-seat parliament. It was supported by 4 different parliamentary groups: the CiU, the ERC, the ICV-EUiA and the radical left-wing and independence party CUP. The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) \u2013 with 20 MPs \u2013 presented its own self-determination declaration, based on a previous modification of the Spanish Constitution and later the organisation of a self-determination referendum. Three fourths of the PSC MPs voted \u201Cno\u201D to the approved declaration, while 5 PSC MPs refused to vote because they did not want to oppose the declaration. The two abstention votes are from radical independence CUP MPs, who considered the declaration to be not ambitious enough.
Political reactions in Catalonia to the Spanish Government\u2019s challenge to the declaration
The Catalan President thought that the Spanish Government\u2019s decision to contest the declaration was \u201Cout of place\u201D. \u201CWe are being told by the Spanish Government and institutions they want to talk, sit around the [negotiation] table, agree and set a dialogue; however, looking at it in a factual way, this is not true\u201D, stated Artur Mas, who is also the leader of the CiU. \u201CIf, for a declaration, they already want to present a challenge procedure before the Constitutional Court it means that what they are cutting out is the talking solution\u201D, he added. However \u201Cdespite this [\u2026], we will continue to believe in talking\u201D, Mas concluded. Furthermore, CiU\u2019s number two, Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, thought that the Spanish Executive\u2019s decision was \u201Ca very severe mistake\u201D, guided by \u201Cpolitical short-sightedness\u201D as it is \u201Ca separating action that feeds separatism\u201D.
The ERC considered the decision to be \u201Canother proof of the concerns and Spain\u2019s institutional offensive that is being made against Catalonia\u201D. Gemma Calvet, from ERC, also noted that it was not the first declaration made by the Catalan Parliament backing the self-determination right and the Catalan people\u2019s sovereignty, and no contests before the Constitutional Court had been filed.
The PSC lamented the Spanish Government taking the declaration before the Constitutional Court and asked for talks with the Catalan Executive. \u201C\u201DWe do not think it\u2019s good news and we think that what is needed is dialogue and an agreement between both governments and political groups\u201D, stated the PSC\u2019s Spokesperson, Jaume Collboni.
The ICV-EUiA insisted that \u201Cthere is no doubt that Catalonia is a legal and political subject to take decisions on its own future and we do not need further interpretations\u201D. The ICV-EUiA Spokesperson, Dolors Camats, emphasised that \u201Cthe Spanish Government has to sit and talk about\u201D how it will be guaranteed that Catalans can freely and democratically decide on their own collective future.
The anti-Catalan nationalism and populist Ciutadans (C\u2019s) stated that the declaration of sovereignty \u201Chas no validity because it is outside the legal framework\u201D. The Spokesperson for C\u2019s, Matías Alonso, stated that the \u201Csovereignty is based on the Spanish people as a whole\u201D and that the two reports used by the Spanish Government show they \u201Cwere right\u201D.