The controversial reform of the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia (2005-2010)

The Statute of Autonomy is the basic law of Catalonia. It regulates relations with the central state and the functioning of Catalonia’s institutions of selfgovernment. The first Statute of Autonomy was approved in 1931, with the proclamation of the 2nd Spanish Republic, and was repealed by Franco’s
dictatorship in 1939. Spain´s democratic transition permitted the reestablishment of regional autonomy on the basis of Article 8 of the 1978 Spanish
Constitution. After tough negotiations, the Statute was approved in 1979 by the Cortes Generales (Spanish Parliament) and in a subsequent referendum, by the people of Catalonia, receiving the support of 88.15% of voters.

ter 25 years in place and some very signficant changes in the country’s political and social environment (Spain’s entry into the EU, the appearance of
new technologies, the transformation of Spain from a country of emmigrants to a country of immigrants, etc.) and with democracy now consolidated, in 2004 the Parliament of Catalonia decided to initiate the process of reforming the Statute.
Their intention was to adapt it to these new circumstances, to extend the level of self-government achieved in the earlier years, and to gain recognition for the national reality of Catalonia.

On 30 September 2005, the Parliament of Catalonia approved a draft of a new text. According to the 1979 Statute, the new text had to be approved by 2/3 of the members of the Catalan Parliament. This was achieved: the text received 120 votes in favour and 15 against (those of the People’s Party) out of a total of 135 seats. In other words, almost 90% of the members of the Parliament of Catalonia gave it their support.

Following the procedure for reform of the Statute established in the Spanish Constitution, on 2 November 2005 the text approved by the Catalan Parliament
was submitted to the Spanish Parliament. There, the text was met with fierce opposition from the two major Spanish parties, the PP People’s Party and the PSOE Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party. The main points of contention were those referring to the definition of Catalonia as a nation and the financing of Catalonia.

Finally, however, in January 2006, agreement was reached with the PSOE, the majority party in Spain at the time, and between March and May 2006 the
Spanish Parliament (composed of both the Congress and the Senate) approved a new text for the Statute in which 50% of the articles had been restricted. In
Congress, the more important of the two parliamentary chambers, it had 189 votes in favour (54% of the total), and received the support of all political parties
except the People’s Party and some minority parties.

In June 2006, the new Statute of Catalonia (with the significant modifications introduced by the Spanish Parliament) was approved in referendum by 73.9% of
the Catalans. In spite of broad political and social consensus on the text, seven appeals of unconstitutionality were lodged against theStatute before Spain´s Constitutional Court, the most important of which was presented by the People’s Party.

In 2010, after 4 years of deliberations, the Constitutional Court, sitting with 4 of its twelve members having terms that expired in late 2007 and one place vacant since 2008 due to the death of one judge, pronounced a judgment partly allowing the appeal of unconstitutionality lodged against the Statute.
The judgement of 28 June 2010 declared as without interpretative legal effect references to “Catalonia as a nation” and “the national reality of Catalonia”. It
also declared fourteen articles totally or partly unconstitutional. Twenty-two further articles and four additional provisions were interpreted restrictively,
always limiting Catalan self-government.

It it important to note that the People’s Party did not challenge the new Statute of Autonomy for the region of Andalusia, drawn up in a form almost parallel to the Statute of Catalonia, although it contained some articles, like article 75.2 on savings banks, whose wording was identical to the Catalan text, which was
declared unconstitutional (120.2 and 126.2 of the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia).

You can read the full official document about it’s controversy here.

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