2017 CATALAN ASSEMBLY
Agenda Item A: Independence of Catalonia
About the committee
Spirit of independence in Catalonia has always been present since the crowns of Castille and Aragon united in the late 15th century. Although the two entities unified, Catalan region kept its customs and laws free from the capital excluding matters of diplomacy and warfare. Throughout history, Catalans were oppressed by Madrid, starting from Philip V, the first Bourbon monarch of Spain, declaring the “New Order” (Nueva Planta) in 1716 to the era of Francis Franco (1939 – 1975). In 1979, one of the first regional communities to be acknowledged, Catalonia enacted its statute of autonomy, which established several governmental institutions (including its own police force), extensive public programs, and patriotic symbols (such as a Catalan flag). Then, Catalonia’s regional government attempted to expand its authority in 2006 by revising its autonomy legislation. The new statute’s preamble, among other things, for the first time refers to Catalonia as a nation. A 2010 Constitutional Court verdict, however, has invalidated certain parts of the 2006 autonomy statue. It specifically determined that the phrase referring to Catalonia as a nation had no legal significance and threw out clauses relating to language and local judge authority. Later on, the Catalan regional administration said in 2014 that an independence vote will be held. The Constitutional Court of Spain ruled that holding such a referendum would be illegal after the central government requested that it assess the constitutionality. The regional administration subsequently changed the referendum’s description to read as a non-binding survey and proceeded to ask the populace if Catalonia should pursue independence. Despite the low voter turnout (2,3 million of vote out of 5.4 million of eligible voters), independence was overwhelmingly (%80) supported. However, now, Carles Puigdemont, the chairman of the regional administration, declared that he will hold a legitimate referendum on Catalan independence. If succeed, it will be the first time a region, without being violently suppressed, to secede from a nation. Then again, it can inspire other separatist movements across the world as the international norms that defy secession would be subject to change. It is an important matter for decision-makers to think both in terms of their respective country as well as global political landscape.