Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Thursday, 24 january 2013




Throughout its history, the people of Catalonia have democratically expressed their will to govern themselves so as to improve the progress, welfare and equal opportunities of all its citizens, and to strengthen its culture and its own collective identity.

The self-government of Catalonia is also based on the historical rights of the Catalan people, on its secular institutions and on Catalan legal tradition. Catalan parliamentarianism has its foundations in the Middle Ages, with the Assemblies of Peace and Truce, and with the Court of Counts.

In the fourteenth century, the institution of the Diputació del General or Generalitat was founded; this gradually acquired greater autonomy until, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, it eventually came to act as the government of the Principality of Catalonia. With the fall of Barcelona in 1714, following the War of Succession, Philip V’s Nueva Planta Decree abolished Catalan public law and the institutions of self-government.

This historic path has been shared with other territories, a fact that has led to a common linguistic, cultural, social and economic space, with the will to strengthen and promote this from a position of mutual recognition.

Throughout the twentieth century, the Catalans’ wish to govern themselves was a constant factor. The creation of the Commonwealth of Catalonia in 1914 represented a first step to recovering self-government, which was abolished by the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. In 1931, with the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic, a Catalan government was formed, bearing the name of the Generalitat of Catalonia; this was endowed with a Statute of Autonomy.

The Generalitat was abolished once again in 1939, by General Franco; the dictatorial regime that he established would last until 1975. This dictatorship met with the active resistance of the people and Government of Catalonia. One of the great milestones in the struggle for freedom was the creation of the Assembly of Catalonia in 1971, prior to the recovery of the Generalitat, on an interim basis, on the return of its president-in-exile in 1977. In the democratic transition, and within the context of the new system of autonomous communities defined by the Spanish Constitution of 1978, the people of Catalonia approved the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia by referendum in 1979; the first elections to the Parliament of Catalonia were held in 1980.

Over recent years, with the consolidation of democracy, a majority of Catalan political and social forces have urged forward measures to transform the political and legal framework. The most recent of these can be seen in the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, whose process of reform was initiated by Parliament in 2005. Drawbacks and refusals imposed by the institutions of the Spanish State—among which Sentence 31/2010 passed by the Spanish Constitutional Court deserves particular emphasis—bring with them a radical repudiation of the democratic development in the collective will of the Catalan people within the Spanish State and establish the grounds for a retrogression in self-government, which today is expressed with total clarity in political, jurisdictional, financial, social, cultural and linguistic aspects. The people of Catalonia has expressed its willingness, in many ways, to overcome the current impasse within the Spanish State. The mass demonstrations held on 10 July 2010 under the slogan "We are a Nation, We Decide", and on 11 September 2012 under the slogan "Catalonia: A New State in Europe" are an expression of the citizens’ rejection of the lack of respect shown to the decisions of the people of Catalonia.

On 27 September 2012, by means of resolution 742/IX, the Parliament of Catalonia asserted the need for the people of Catalonia to be able to freely and democratically determine its collective future through consultation. The most recent parliamentary elections in Catalonia, held on 25 November 2012, both expressed and confirmed this desire in a clear and unequivocal manner.

To carry out this process, the Parliament of Catalonia, meeting in the first session of the tenth legislature, in representation of the will of the citizens of Catalonia democratically expressed in the last election, has framed the following Declaration of Sovereignty and Right to Decide of the People of Catalonia:

In accordance with the will of the majority expressed democratically by the people of Catalonia, the Parliament of Catalonia agrees to initiate the process to make effective the exercise of the right to decide so that the citizens of Catalonia can determine their collective political future, in conformity with the following principles:

- Sovereignty. Through reason of democratic legitimacy, the people of Catalonia has the character of a sovereign political and legal subject.

- Democratic legitimacy. The process of exercising the right to decide shall be scrupulously democratic, and shall ensure in particular the diversity of options and respect for them all, through reflection and dialogue within Catalan society, so that the resulting proclamation shall be the majority expression of the people’s will, which shall be the fundamental guarantor of the right to decide.

- Transparency. All tools shall be made available that are required by the Catalan people and civil society in order to be fully informed and to have the knowledge necessary for exercising the right to decide and to promote participation in the process.

- Dialogue. Dialogue and negotiation will be held with the Spanish State, with European institutions and with the international community as a whole.

- Social cohesion. The social and territorial cohesion of the country and the will expressed on many occasions by Catalan society to maintain Catalonia as a single people shall be guaranteed.

- Europeanism. The founding principles of the European Union shall be defended and promoted, particularly citizens’ fundamental rights, democracy, commitment to welfare, solidarity among the various peoples of Europe and the pledge for economic, social and cultural progress.

- Legality. All existing legal framework shall be used to implement the strengthening of democracy and the exercise of the right to decide.

- The principal role of Parliament. As an institution that represents the people of Catalonia, the Parliament has a principal role in this process, and therefore the mechanisms and working dynamics that guarantee this notion must be agreed upon and specified.

- Participation. The Parliament of Catalonia and the Government of the Generalitat should make actively participatory in this whole process the ambit of the municipalities and the greatest possible number of political forces, economic and social agents and cultural and civic institutions in our country, and should establish mechanisms to guarantee this principle.

The Parliament of Catalonia encourages all citizens to become active participants in this democratic process of exercising the people of Catalonia’s right to decide.

The Parliament of Catalonia, 22 January 2013

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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Col·lectiu Emma is a network of Catalans and non-Catalans living in different countries who have made it their job to track and review news reports about Catalonia in the international media. Our goal is to ensure that the world's public opinion gets a fair picture of the country's reality today and in history.

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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia