Reasons for a constituent process

Article published at Diari Ara (English), 31st May 2016

By Jaume Lopez

This is a unique opportunity. Very rarely has the possibility of holding a brainstorming session of this magnitude arisen in a country

In the same way that the right to self-determination has headlined Catalonia’s political life in recent years and it can be considered one of the fundamental cornerstones of citizen mobilization, we are now faced with a new chapter in this political transition that should have a new protagonist: the constituent process.

This term has begun to crop up, albeit timidly, in political life; and, as is well-known, it features in the electoral platform for the pro-independence and pro-sovereignty forces (from Junts pel Sí to En Comú Podem) who conceive of it in different ways and in different scenarios. But as happened with the right to self-determination, it´s been used in civil society for a while. There have been may citizens’ initiatives whose objective is to imagine and debate what could be a constituent process of high democratic quality. The majority of these proposals are gathered together in a platform called Reinicia Catalunya (Restart Catalonia).

To say that the constituent process will be a key political piece that will determine the future of this country would not be an overstatement. First, because it could possibly be the last chance to broaden support for a Catalan republic. The debate over independence is practically exhausted in its current terms. Everyone has already taken a stand and few changes are foreseeable. A new space is needed where we can meet to talk about the immediate future of the nation without the previously established positions regarding how each of us would vote today in a referendum on independence. The best way to achieve this is to focus the debate on the constituent principles (not necessarily the constitutional ones) of the Catalonia that we long for, allowing consensus to arise and identify us as a nation, as happened with the right to self-determination.

Second, everyone knows that the process Catalonia is undertaking is completely singular and —if we become independent eventually— it will be unique. Never before has a western European country become independent against the will of the state of which it is a part. Thus there is no internationally recognized method to follow. Nevertheless, we learned from the Ruling on Kosovo by the International Court of Justice that independence does not contravene any international laws, which does not imply that the nations will have to recognize the new country. That’s why we must introduce ourselves to the world with the greatest possible number of arguments. Besides underscoring Spain’s non-democratic response, it is necessary to contrast this with the highly democratic nature of the process in Catalonia. Thousands of people, mobilized civically and democratically, deliberating on what they want their new country to be like. We have already shown that we know how to host massive civic rallies. Now it is time to show the world that we are capable of holding a constituent process as has never happened before, true to the 21st century.

Read the full article here.

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