Parliament declares Catalan people "a sovereign political and legal subject"

Declaration is passed by 63% of MPs in the Catalan chamber, including the two largest parties · Spanish parties vote against, deem the text “illegal” · The declaration denies main principle of the Spanish Constitution · Poll shows a majority of Catalans support independence

The Parliament of Catalonia has passed a resolution by which the Catalan people has been declared "a sovereign political and legal subject". The approval of the text is the the first step in a political agenda that was agreed between the two biggest Catalan parties (centre-right CiU and centre-left ERC) in order to have a referendum on independence ("a state within the European framework", as contained in the relevant document).

The text of the declaration of sovereignty had been agreed by CiU, ERC and ecosocialist ICV, and all those parties' MPs have voted in favour. A member of leftist CUP has also supported the declaration, while two other have abstained. This equals to 85 votes, out of 135 MPs in the Catalan Parliament.

Reasons for sovereignty

CiU MP Oriol Pujol has argued that the declaration lays the "foundations" of the political process towards the referendum. According to Pujol, Catalonia is already a "political subject" since the Statute of Autonomy of 2006 says that "the powers of the Generalitat emanate from the people of Catalonia".

ERC leader Oriol Junqueras has said that the majority of Catalans want this process to start, and that the declaration could be summed up into one single word: "democracy". According to him, through this declaration, "the right to decide is exercised, not asked for".

ICV leader Joan Herrera has stated that the "relationship with the [Spanish] state is exhausted" since the ruling by the Constitutional Court on the Catalan Statute of Autonomy in 2010. Herrera has added that the process must preserve "social cohesion" and "democratic legitimacy". He has demanded that Spain accepts the referendum, as Canada did in Quebec in 1995.

CUP MP Quim Arrufat has said that his party "celebrates and supports" the declaration, but at the same time has "reasonable doubts" as regards to the "return" of political power to the Catalan people. Among these "doubts", Arrufat has quoted "by whom" and "in exchange for what" will the referendum be allowed, and "which amount of sovereignty will result" from the process. CUP has also critized the fact that the declaration does not mention "the complete nation", that is the Catalan Countries.

Reasons against sovereignty

Spanish parties PP, PSC-PSOE and Citizens have voted against the text, since all them deem it "illegal". Still, five PSC-PSOE MPs have decided not to vote, since they did not agree with the opposition of their party to the declaration. Two PP MPs were ill and have not attended the vote. Thus, finally there have been 41 votes against.

PSC-PSOE leader Pere Navarro has argued that the text should have included the concept of "right to decide" instead of "sovereignty". He has added that declaring sovereignty equals to declaring independence, and has proposed to start a negotiation with the Spanish institutions so that Spain becomes a federal state.

Far more categorical, PP leader Alicia Sánchez-Camacho has stated that the declaration is a "unilateral proposal for independence" that "will fail". According to her, the resolution goes directly against what is foreseen in the Spanish Constitution. Sánchez-Camacho has added that leaving Spain means that Catalonia would also be outside the European Union.

A similar opinion has been expressed by Citizens Party leader Albert Rivera, who has defined the proposal as "theater" and "delirium". "The right to decide does not exist", has stated Rivera.

Text denies the very first concept of the Spanish Constitution

The political and legal implications of this declaration may be very deep. Declaring the Catalan people to be "a sovereign subject" is tantamount to denying Article 1.2 of the Spanish Constitution, that clearly states that "national sovereignty belongs to the Spanish people, from whom all state powers emanate".

On previous occasions, the Catalan Parliament had already denied that there was a single nation within the Spanish territory. Catalonia has been described several times as a "nation" on its own, as the Statute of Autonomy of 2006 says in its preamble.

Recent polls shows majority for independence

The most recent opinion poll of citizens' attitudes towards independence shows that 56.9% of Catalans favour secession from Spain. The poll, released three days ago, finds that 35% are opposed, while 8.2% do not know. The survey also says that 62.9% of Catalans want the referendum to be held, even if Spain does not agree to that.