Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Wednesday, 28 january 2015 | VilaWeb


Catalonia approves special status for Occitan Val d’Aran, including its right to self-determination

It also recognise its ‘Occitan national reality’


The Catalan Parliament approved on Wednesday the Law on the Val d’Aran’s special status within Catalonia, recognising its “Occitan national reality” and its right to self-determination. This small Pyrenean valley, surrounded by high peaks and located in Catalonia’s north-western corner, is the last land where the Occitan language is widely spoken, although it is called Aranese there. The Val d’Aran County has had a certain degree of self-rule within Catalonia since 1990, further recognised with the Catalan Statute of Autonomy from 2006. In addition, since September 2010, Aranese is Catalonia’s third official language, being the preferred language in this county in the middle of the Pyrenees. The law approved this Wednesday develops and consolidates the Val d’Aran’s special regime, with its own powers of self-rule and structures. In order to enter into force, it will have to be approved through referendum by the less than 11,000 inhabitants of the valley, which should take place in 6 months time. Despite the important step forwards in the Val d’Aran’s self-rule, controversial aspects such as its specific funding scheme and electoral system have not been approved through this bill and have been kept aside for further debate. Regarding the funding scheme, the new law provides that it will have to be bilaterally discussed with the Catalan Government and updated within the next 3 years.

The new law has been approved with the full support of 80% of the Catalan Parliament, receiving the votes from the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, the left-wing Catalan independence party ERC, the Catalan socialist party PSC, the Catalan green socialist and post-communist coalition ICV-EUiA and the alternative-left and radical independence party CUP. The remaining 20% of MPs have partially backed the bill or they have voted against it. The Spanish nationalist and conservative People’s Party (PP), which runs the Spanish Government, has backed some parts of the bill. However, the anti-Catalan nationalism and populist party Ciutadans (C’s) has opposed it.

Their main reasons for opposing the bill has been the recognition of Val d’Aran’s right to self-determination, its right to decide its own collective future independently from the rest of Catalonia. The PP and the C’s are the only parties in the Catalan Parliament opposed to Catalonia’s right to self-determination, and they are also opposed to recognising that right for the Val d’Aran. Furthermore, they have also objected to the recognition of its “Occitan national reality” and its “historical rights”. Such points of the bill were voted on separately and a round of applause spontaneously started after their approval.

Carles Barrera, the Val d’Aran’s Main Trustee – which is the County’s main representative, was present at the Catalan Parliament during the new law’s approval. After the vote he welcomed the new bill. “Today is quite a happy day for the Aranese people”, he stated. According to him, the new regime fulfils the “legitimate aspirations” of the Aranese citizens. He highlighted that the new law recognises the Val d’Aran’s “own identity” within Catalonia and grants the territory and its citizens the right to freely decide on their own political and collective future. “Catalan parliamentary groups have deeply internalised the right to self-determination. In a democratic state, everybody must have the freedom to decide and give its opinion”, he added.

The new law recognises the “Occitan national reality”, which comes with a cultural, historical, geographic and linguistic reality as well. The new special regime protects the valley’s own particularities and also recognises its historical right. The Aranese people will also have the right to decide how they want to govern themselves and the public structures they want to have, as well as their relationship with Catalonia. The bill also includes the Val d’Aran 6 administrative divisions as well as its flag, shield, national day and anthem. In addition, Aranese will be the preferred language used by the public administrations there.
CNA (Catalan National Agency)

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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

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