Thursday, 28 July 2016

Catalonia, Nation-Building

The National is the only UK newspaper to headline the significance of yesterday's vote in the Catalan Parliament, the Generalitat.

Because yesterday the Catalan parliament directly challenged the Spanish government and its constitutional court (the Tribunal Constitutional) in two votes. The first was a vote to accept a route-map to independence, and the second to create a new Catalan social services agency.

The route map - in Catalan it is called the 'procés constituent' - has 11 points, laid out in detail in Catalan in Vilaweb. In summary, the plan is for a transparent, participative, process in which the Catalans would create a Nation-building Social Forum (Fòrum Social Constituent*, FSC) with civil society and the political parties. the FSC would debate the various points of the future Constitution, and encourage public participation in the creation of a Constitution.

In a second phase, the Generalitat would pass 'laws of disconnection' with Spain, and create a Nation-Building Assembly (Assemblea Constituent) - in effect a new government - which would finalise the Constitution and put the final document to a public referendum. At the moment at which the public vote in favour of the constitution it would come into power, creating a new Republic of Catalonia.

The Madrid interim government uses the constitutional court to break many of the laws that are passed by the Catalan parliament. Because the government in power can select the judges who sit in the constitutional court, it is in effect just another arm of the ruling Partido Popular. It is absolutely not an independent judiciary.

But Madrid is at a very weak point at the moment. Paul Kavanagh, whose Wee Ginger Dug comes from Valencia and who is an expert on Spanish politics, was correct to point out yesterday that enfeebled Madrid is much more bothered about Gibraltar than it is about Scotland. Unable to form a government despite two general elections, Madrid politicians are doing what Tories and Labour in Westminster know best; focusing on me-me-me egos, stabbing each other in the back and then in the front, and not getting on with forming a government. There is every possibility that there will be a third, fourth or fifth general election here. 

Meanwhile, the Catalans are quietly getting on with building their own state.

*I'm having difficulty translating the much-used Catalan word 'constituent' into English. It means 'constituting' in the sense of 'we are constituting a new state.'

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