Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Saturday, 27 may 2017 | POLITICO


Why Catalonia will take the future into its own hands

Politicians may be running out of options to break the stalemate, but the region won’t turn its back on voters.

Unionist politicians often rebuke their critics with the platitude that Spain is already one of the most decentralized countries in the world. But is it really? No American, Belgian or Scot would accept devolved powers that could be overruled by a simple majority in the national parliament without consequences, as happens here.
On paper, Catalonia has home rule. In reality, not much is left. Thanks to Spain’s centralist zeal, Barcelona’s suburban trains, its airport and even its harbor are tightly controlled by the government in Madrid.
In Germany, by contrast, the city-state of Hamburg owns and controls its suburban train network, airport and seaport, without calling into question Germany’s unity. In the United States, the criminal code is determined by all 50 states. In Catalonia, we can’t even have our own High Council of the Judiciary. Every institution is tightly controlled and limited by the central government.
To add insult to injury, more than 40 years after the death of dictator Francisco Franco, Catalans are still being discriminated against for speaking their own language. In one of countless examples this year already, a university professor was fined €601 for daring to speak Catalan to a Spanish police officer at Barcelona airport.
There were two decisions by the central authorities that served as the conclusive detonators for the independence movement. One was Madrid’s repeated refusal to comply with public investment commitments in Catalonia. The other was the Constitutional Court’s 2010 judgment on the Catalan Statute of Autonomy, whereby the court, acting at the behest of Madrid’s governing Popular Party, presumed to correct the Catalan people’s democratic will.
The court modified and cut back a text approved by the parliaments of Spain and Catalonia and, most importantly, by 73.9 percent of Catalan voters in a binding referendum. The court — whose members have clear party links and are suspected by many of following party lines — did the conservatives’ dirty job and imposed the party’s agenda. In doing so, it violated the constitution it is meant to protect.
This is nothing new. Successive Spanish governments have violated Catalan autonomy with impunity. They have pushed through legislation on issues over which they have no mandate and challenged perfectly constitutional Catalan decrees, thus automatically blocking them. Meanwhile, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s administration has failed to comply with 34 Constitutional Court judgments that are favorable to Catalonia.
Spain’s congress and government have repeatedly turned down requests for a binding referendum on independence — a measure that enjoys the support of as many as 8 out of 10 of the region’s residents, according to most polls.
Indeed, more than half of the Catalan population says it would support a binding referendum — even if holding one was prohibited by Spanish law or opposed by the government. Polls also show that an overwhelming majority would accept the result of a referendum, whatever the result.


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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