Catalan newspapers jointly defend Catalonia’s autonomy, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009 — Twelve Catalan newspapers published a joint editorial last Thursday in which they defend the legality of Catalonia‘s statute of autonomy.

The statute — meant to clarify the division of political powers between Spain and Catalonia — is under review by Spain’s constitutional court, which reportedly may weaken plans to enlarge the region’s self-government.

The newspapers, including the popular La Vanguardia en El Periódico, point out that both the Spanish and the Catalan parliament approved the statute, which enhanced Catalonia’s powers in taxation and judicial matters and provided the region with more control over airports, ports and immigration.

Catalonians voted for the statute in a 2006 referendum.

However, three years ago the conservative People’s Party (PP), Spain’s main opposition party which favors a stronger central state, lodged a complaint against the statute at the Constitutional Court.

El Pais last Sunday reported the court is leaning toward rejecting the term “nation” in the autonomy statute. In addition it would cancel or alter many of the statute’s 126 articles, including Catalonia’s increased promotion of the Catalan language.

Autonomous Communities

Political power in Spain is divided by a central government and 17 Autonomous Communities, including Catalonia, which is home to 7 million of Spain’s 46 million people.

These communities are self-governing, each through their own Generalitat — an autonomous political institution which has exclusive jurisdiction, both legislative and executive, over a wide range of subjects.

The Dignity of Catalonia

The court’s decision could set the stage for a major political crisis just before Madrid takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union during the first half of 2010.

The joint editorial, published under the title, “The Dignity of Catalonia,” claims the court’s plans threaten “the democratic maturity of a pluralistic Spain,” and warns that Catalans would take to streets en masse over the court’s decision.

The newspapers were supported by Catalan radio and TV stations, political parties, unions and civic associations.


Analysts believe the row plays into the hands of Catalan Separatism, a political movement that promotes complete independence from Spain, is on the rise.

On December 13 more than 150 Catalan municipalities are holding symbolic, unofficial referendums on independence.

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This post was last updated: Jan. 13, 2011