The Parliament of Catalonia has approved an historical declaration of sovereignty claiming the right to self-determination by the Catalan people.
The declaration was supported by 85 members of the parliament against 41 in a 135-member parliament.
The declaration paves the way for the organization of a self-determination referendum on Catalonia’s future within Spain and its hypothetical independence.
For the Catalan parties supporting it, it’s an historical milestone: it sums up the will of the great majority of the people of Catalonia and it points the way to follow from now on, starting de facto a self-determination process.
The parties supporting the declaration ran in the last Catalan elections with the explicit compromise to organize a self-determination vote and defending the right of Catalan people to self-determination, no matter if the Spanish Government opposes.
The declaration received 85 “Yes” votes, 41 “No” votes and 2 abstentions. Therefore it was supported by 66.4 percent of the votes, representing 63 percent of the total 135-seat parliament.
These supporters came from 4 different groups: the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist CiU, the Left-Wing Catalan Independence ERC, the Catalan Green Socialist ICV and the communist and independence CUP.
CiU has been running the Catalan government since 2010 and ERC is from this year offering CiU a stable parliamentary support. Both parties had agreed on a declaration two weeks ago but they have been holding talks with ICV, CUP and the Spanish socialist PSC to modify it in order to gather greater support.
Finally, the day before the vote, PSC registered its own declaration, which was stating the Catalans’ right to self-determination but within the Spanish legal framework. CiU, ERC and ICV text is declaring Catalonia a sovereign political and legal entity, while the Spanish Constitution states that sovereignty is rooted in the whole of the Spanish people.
This was too much for PSC and in the morning of the parliamentary debate, the Spanish socialists decided to vote against the declaration presented by the other parties.
As a consequence, 5 members of PSC, who explicitly support Catalonia’s right to self-determination, didn’t vote as a protest because their party decided to vote next to those opposing the right to self-determination by the Catalan people.
PSC’s members of parliament who refused to vote represent 25 percent of PSC group in the Catalan parliament. Furthermore, 2 members from the communist and independence CUP abstained because the declaration doesn’t include other Catalan-speaking territories and they believe that it isn’t ambitious enough.
Those opposing the declaration included 32 percent of the members of the parliament who voted, representing 30.4 percent of the total chamber. They were from 3 different parties: the Spanish socialist PSC, the Spanish constitutionalist PP and the anti-Catalan Ciutadans.
The full text of the declaration
Resolution proposal for the approval of the declaration of sovereignty and the right to decide [synonym in Catalonia for the ‘right to self-determination’] of the people of Catalonia
The people of Catalonia, throughout its history, have democratically expressed the will to govern themselves in order to improve progress, welfare and equal opportunities for all citizens, and to strengthen their own culture and collective identity.
The self-government of Catalonia is also based on the historical rights of the Catalan people, in their secular institutions and the Catalan legal tradition. Catalan parliamentary tradition has its foundations in the Middle Ages, with the Peace and Truce Assemblies and the Council of Barcelona’s Count.
In the fourteenth century, the Generalitat or Diputació del General was created, which gradually gained more autonomy until it acted, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as the government of the Principality of Catalonia. One consequence of the fall of Barcelona in 1714, following the War of Succession, was that Philip V signed the Nueva Planta Decrees to abolish Catalan public law and government institutions.
This historic path is shared with other territories, a fact that has shaped a common linguistic, cultural, social and economic space, with the will of strengthening it and promoting it with mutual recognition.
Throughout the twentieth century, the Catalan desire for self-government has been constant. The creation of the Mancomunitat of Catalonia in 1914 represented the first step towards the reinstatement of self-government, which was abolished by the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. With the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic, a Catalan government was formed in 1931 with the name Generalitat of Catalonia [Catalan Government], which had its own Statute of Autonomy.
The Generalitat was again abolished in 1939 by General Franco, who established a dictatorial regime until 1975. The dictatorship faced an active resistance by the people and the Government of Catalonia. One of the milestones in the struggle for freedom was the creation of the Assembly of Catalonia in 1971, prior to the reinstatement of the Catalan Government – with a provisional status – with the return in 1977of its president, who had been in exile. During the democratic transition, and in the context of the new Autonomous Communities system defined by the Spanish Constitution of 1978, the people of Catalonia approved Catalonia’s Statute of Autonomy by referendum in 1979, and held the first elections for the Parliament of Catalonia in 1980.
In recent years, on the path to deepening democracy, the majority of Catalonia’s political and social forces have launched measures to transform the political and legal framework. The most recent was the process to reform the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, initiated by the [Catalan] Parliament in 2005. The difficulties and denials presented by the institutions of the Spanish State, which include the Constitutional Court sentence 31/2010, carry a radical negation of the democratic development of the collective will of the Catalan people within the Spanish State. It also creates the basis for a regression in [Catalonia’s] self-government, which today is very clearly expressed in political, jurisdictional, financial, social, cultural and linguistic aspects.
In many ways, the people of Catalonia have expressed their desire to overcome the current blocked situation within the Spanish State. Mass demonstrations on the 10thof July 2010, under the slogan “We are a nation, we decide” and the 11th of September 2012, under the slogan “Catalonia, new European state” are an expression of the rejection by citizens of the lack of respect for the decisions of the people of Catalonia.
On the 27th of September 2012, through the resolution 742/IX, the Parliament of Catalonia acknowledged the need for the people of Catalonia to freely and democratically decide on their collective future via a vote. The recent legislative elections in Catalonia on the 25th of November 2012, expressed and confirmed this desire in a clear and unambiguous way.
In order to carry out this process, the Parliament of Catalonia, meeting in the first session of the tenth legislative term, and representing the will the citizens of Catalonia democratically expressed in the last election, issues the following:
Declaration of sovereignty and the right to self-determination by the people of Catalonia
According to the democratically-expressed will of the majority of the people of Catalonia, the Parliament of Catalonia has agreed to start the process to implement the right to decide [right to self-determination] so that the citizens of Catalonia are able to decide on their collective political future, according to the following principles:
- Sovereignty. The people of Catalonia have, for reasons of democratic legitimacy, the status of a sovereign political and legal entity.
- Democratic legitimacy. The process of exercising the right to decide [right to self-determination] will be scrupulously democratic, especially ensuring the plurality of choices and the respect for all of them, through debate and dialogue within the Catalan society. The objective is that the resulting statement will be the expression of the will of the majority of the people, who will be the fundamental guarantors of the right to decide.
- Transparency. All the necessary tools to allow that the overall Catalan population and civil society have all the information and precise knowledge to exercise the right to decide and promote their participation in the process will be provided.
- Dialogue. There will be talks and negotiation with the Spanish State, the European institutions and the international community.
- Social cohesion. The country’s social and territorial cohesion will be guaranteed, as well as the desire, which has been expressed many times by the Catalan society, to keep Catalonia as one people.
- Europeanism. The founding principles of the European Union will be defended and promoted, particularly the fundamental rights of the citizens, democracy, commitment to the Welfare State, solidarity among different peoples of Europe, and the prioritization of economic, social and cultural progress.
- Legality. All existing legal frameworks will be used to implement the strengthening of democracy and the exercise of the right to decide.
- Main role of the Parliament. The Parliament [of Catalonia], as the institution that represents the people of Catalonia, has a main role in this process and therefore the mechanisms and work dynamics to ensure this principle will have to be agreed on and specified.
- Participation. The Parliament of Catalonia and the Catalan Government have to make the local world [referring to municipalities] and the maximum number of political forces, economic and social agents, and cultural and civic institutions of our country be active participants in this process, as well as to establish the mechanisms to ensure this principle.
The Parliament of Catalonia encourages all citizens to be active players and protagonists of this democratic process of exercising the right of the people of Catalonia to decide.
Barcelona, 22nd of January, 2013.