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The ‘Citizen Participation Process’ in Catalonia: Past, Present And Future

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The aim of this article is two-fold. First, the ‘citizen participation process’ held in Catalonia last November, along with the political events leading to it, will be explained. Second, possible directions which the sovereign process in Catalonia might take will be explored.

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  1. 1.

    The exact figure, according to the organisers, was 2.305.290 voters. 80.76 % of the participants supported independence. See

  2. 2.

    Torbisco and Kirsch (2014).

  3. 3.

    Nicolaïdis (2014).

  4. 4.

    Statutes of Autonomy are the ‘basic institutional rule’ (section 147.1 of the Constitution) of each Autonomous Community, in which the assumption of legislative and executive powers by the regional institutions is established. Although Statutes of Autonomy are frequently described as the Constitutions of Autonomous Communities, it is important to remark that Statutes of Autonomy are subordinate to the Spanish Constitution (they are part of the state legal system) and that the approval of the Spanish Parliament, and not only that of the regional Assembly, is necessary to amend Statutes of Autonomy. After all, Statutes of Autonomy are organic acts of the state (section 147.3 of the Constitution). The Catalan Statute of Autonomy was first enacted in 1979 by means of the Organic Act 4/1979, 18 December. It was called Estatut de Sau. In 2006 the Organic Act 6/2006, 19 July, currently in force, amended the Estatut de Sau. The Organic Act 6/2006 is usually called Estatut (English version available at: Accessed 6 June 2015). The reform pursued three objectives: ‘increase the symbolic and political recognition of Catalonia as a distinct national reality within the Spanish state, increase the level of self-government of the Catalan institutions and establish a higher degree of protection in the Constitutional Court in order to counter the regular invasions of powers by the central government, [and] improve the deficient and onerous finance system through which Catalonia bore a fiscal deficit’ (Requejo 2010: 159).

  5. 5.

    Constitutional Court Judgment (CCJ) 31/2010, 28 June. Available at: Accessed 6 June 2015.

  6. 6.

    The Constitutional Court is a relevant actor in the Catalan pro-sovereignty process. Its role has increased in importance due to the strategy followed by the Spanish government of challenging any law or decision taken by the Catalan Parliament to exercise the ‘right to decide’. The Spanish government knows that the game is won even before starting to play because the Constitution clearly forbids Catalan self-determination. The Constitutional Court is still assuming an extremely activist position and holds a very narrow interpretation of the Constitution, similar to the exegesis supported by the People’s Party (PP). As several scholars have pointed out, the Constitutional Court is not an unbiased referee on national matters (Bengoetxea 2011; Pérez Royo 2012; Buchanan 2013; Cagiao 2015).

  7. 7.

    The demonstration, held in Barcelona, was the most massively attended in Catalonia since the re-establishment of democracy: according to the organisers, more than one million people participated (La Vanguardia 2010). Although the demonstration was staged to protest against the CCJ on the Statute of Autonomy, independence slogans dominated. All political parties represented in the Catalan Parliament supported the demonstration, except the People’s Party of Catalonia (PPC) and Citizens (C’s).

  8. 8.

    ‘Cortes Generales’ is the name of the Spanish Parliament, composed of two chambers: the Congress of Deputies (CD) and the Senate. The Spanish parliamentary system follows a model of imperfect bicameralism, where most powers are conferred on the CD, being the Senate almost only a chamber for the second reading of bills: amendment is possible, but not vetoing their adoption (section 90.2 of the Constitution). According to section 69.1 of the Constitution, the Senate is the ‘House of territorial representation’, but in fact it does not work as such: its members form groups according to political affiliation rather than to territorial origin, so that they act in their party’s interests and not for their territory’s benefit. Not even the election system of the Senate responds to a territorial logic (Punset 2006).

  9. 9.

    Legal scholars disagree on the importance attached to the referendum depending on whether they are sympathetic with Catalan nationalism or not. Authors included in the first group raised a democratic objection against the CCJ 31/2010 because the Constitutional Court is not popularly elected. They criticised the excessive activism of the Constitutional Court that, once more time, intervened to curtail Catalan autonomy. See, for instance, Caminal (2007), Albertí (2010), Pérez Royo (2011) and Bengoetxea (2011). For the opposite view, see De Carreras (2010), De la Quadra-Salcedo (2010), Solozábal (2011) and Sosa (2013).

  10. 10.

    CCJ 31/2010, Legal Basis 12.

  11. 11.

    Ferreres (2014: 575).

  12. 12.

    The National Day of Catalonia (Diada) takes place each 11 September. It commemorates the defeat of the Catalan army at the Siege of Barcelona during the Spanish War of Succession (1714). The Catalan forces supported the Habsburg pretender, so when the Bourbon King Philip V ascended the throne, he took it as a betrayal. The Nueva Planta decrees established an almost completely centralised state, incorporating the territories of the Crown of Aragon, including Catalonia, as provinces of Castile. This meant the end of their distinct laws and institutions (fueros).

  13. 13.

    Artur Mas is the leader of Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC) since 2012 and the President of Catalonia since 2010. Previously, he had been the CiU candidate for the presidency of the Generalitat twice: in 2003 and 2006. However, the left-wing coalition between the PSC, ERC and ICV-EUiA finally governed, although CiU had obtained a slightly larger number of seats than the PSC. Before running for president of Catalonia, Mas had held several positions in the government of Catalonia presided over by Jordi Pujol: Catalan Minister of Public Works (1995–1997), Minister of Economy and Finance (1997–2001), Deputy Prime Minister (2001–2003) and official spokesman (2000–2003). According to Navarro, the reason why Mas has overemphasised the national discourse of CDC, a party that never before had been in favour of independence, connects with his class-conscious position: Mas embodies the pujolismo, that is, the political project of the Catalan bourgeoisie and some sectors of the Catholic Church which aims at creating social cohesion around the concept of nation regardless of the social differences—income, interests, classes, etcetera. This type of nationalism is presented as conflicting with the official Spanish nationalism—the Spanish nationalism contained in the Constitution and supported by the main political parties in the CD (PP, PSOE), but also by UPyD and C’s. However, these two types of nationalism need each other for electoral purposes. Even more, the antagonism between them hides the community of class interests that both nationalisms share (2003). In Corominas’ opinion, Mas is the main winner of the pro-sovereignty process in Catalonia, ‘at least on his side (…): like a chameleon with too many colours, he has known how to monopolise the discourse and rise from the dead every time his political career seemed to collapse’ (2015).

  14. 14.

    Some political analysts interpret the fall in the number of votes for CiU as an unequivocal sign of the limited support that independence had (e.g. Vegas 2012). However, Navarro’s exegesis of the results seems more accurate: CiU was the main loser and its defeat was due to the fact that this party implemented severe neoliberal measures rather than to its defence of the sovereign process. That is the reason which also explains why the PSC equally lost plenty of votes: neither the Socialists renounced their recent past of cuts and austerity, nor they advanced significant changes on their political programme (2012).

  15. 15.

    Resolution 5/X adopting the Declaration of sovereignty and of the right to decide of the people of Catalonia, 23 January 2013. English version available at: Accessed 6 June 2015.

  16. 16.

    CCJ 42/2014, 25 March.

  17. 17.

    The Court ruled: ‘Catalonia (and the whole of Spain), as a socio-historic reality, is previous to the Constitution of 1978. From a legal-constitutional perspective, the “people of Catalonia” invoked in the Declaration forms a subject whose legal creation depends on its constitutional acknowledgment (…). Thus in the contested Declaration the subject who is recognised as a “political and legal sovereign” has been legally created within the framework of the Constitution by means of the exercise of the right of autonomy that section 2 sanctions and guarantees’ (Legal Basis 3).

  18. 18.

    Resolution 17/X of the Catalan Parliament on the start of a dialogue with the government of the Spanish State with a view to enabling a consultation on the future of Catalonia. English version available at,d.d24. Accessed 25 June 2015.

  19. 19.

    The PSC and the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) showed serious disagreements on the right to decide of Catalonia. Five members of the PSC disobeyed the instructions of their party and did not vote against the first Declaration of Sovereignty, although they were in the House. After that, on 26 February 2013, the right to decide of the Catalan people was discussed in the CD. On this occasion, the deputies of the PSC voted in favour of the proposal, distancing themselves from the PSOE. The discrepancy between the Catalan and the Spanish socialists became accentuated when the second Declaration of Sovereignty was passed in the Catalan Parliament with the support of the PSC. Finally, when the Catalan Parliament approved the motion by which the power to call a referendum was requested, three members of the PSC voted in favour.

  20. 20.

    The Catalan Way imitated the Baltic Way that on 23 August 1989 joined the three capitals of the former soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with the aim of claiming independence from the Soviet Union. Just after the Catalan Way took place, Latvian and Lithuanian governments supported the Catalan independence movement. However, when the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel García-Margallo, met the ambassadors of each of these two countries, both Baltic States were quick to deny that their Prime Ministers had backed Catalan secession. The misunderstanding was attributed to the press, and the differences between the Catalan and the Baltic cases were highlighted.

  21. 21.

    Section 149.1, 32nd of the Spanish Constitution reads: ‘The State shall have exclusive competence over (…) [the] authorisation of popular consultations through the holding of referendums’.

  22. 22.

    This number of participants is according to the organisers’ estimations (La Vanguardia 2014).

  23. 23.

    Act 10/2014, 26 September, on non-referendum popular consultations and other forms of citizen participation.

  24. 24.

    Decree 129/2014, 27 September, for the call of a popular consultation on the political future of Catalonia.

  25. 25.

    According to section 161.2 of the Constitution, ‘the Government may appeal to the Constitutional Court against provisions and resolutions adopted by the bodies of the Self-governing Communities, which shall bring about the suspension of the contested provisions or resolutions, but the Court must either ratify or lift the suspension, as the case may be, within a period of no more than 5 months’.

  26. 26.

    Nevertheless, on 21 November 2014 the Attorney General’s Office brought a criminal indictment against the Catalan government for ‘disobedience, breach of public duties, misuse of public money and usurpation of powers in the participation process on 9th November’ (García and Fabra 2014). As a sign of symbolic solidarity, thousands of people accused themselves of having participated in the ‘citizen participation process’ on 9th November. The High Court of Catalonia (Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Cataluña—TSJC) decided to dismiss the self-incriminating documents based upon the argument that the act of voting on 9th November does not constitute a criminal offence (Auto TSJC 21 July 2015).

  27. 27.

    CCJ 31/2015, 25 February and CCJ 32/2015, 25 February.

  28. 28.

    And the other way round. As some scholars have suggested, the Catalan pro-sovereignty process may be the most likely and realistic way of changing Spanish politics in the short run (Baños 2014; Rosa 2015).

  29. 29.

    Local and regional elections were called on 24 May. However, in Andalusia, Catalonia, Galicia and the Basque Country regional elections are scheduled differently: Andalusian regional elections were conducted on 22 March, Catalonia has called a snap election on 27 September, and the other two Autonomous Communities are not renewing their Parliaments this year.

  30. 30.

    The general election will be held on 20 December.

  31. 31.

    According to section 2 of the Constitution, ‘the Constitution is based on the indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation [capitals in the original], the common and indivisible homeland of all Spaniards’. Section 1.2 adds that ‘national sovereignty belongs to the Spanish people, from whom all State powers emanate’ (emphasis added).

  32. 32.

    It is important to note that there is a big difference between Spain and the UK on this issue. The divergence, however, does not lie in the fact that the UK has an unwritten Constitution: this is a minor eventuality that, at the most, makes the amendment of the Scotland Act more lenient than the reform of section 2 of the Spanish Constitution. What separates the Scottish and the Catalan cases is the national conception that each state maintain: plural in the UK, and unitary in Spain. As the UK is conceived of as a multinational state, when secessionist claims arose in Scotland, the UK government accepted to negotiate on a referendum call. That possibility is flatly rejected by the Spanish authorities, even after the Scottish referendum in which the ‘Better Together’ campaign won. Thus, it could be argued that the real discrepancy is that in Spain political will to solve the national question is lacking.

  33. 33.

    The procedure for doing it is established in section 168, which reads: ‘1. If a total revision of the Constitution is proposed, or a partial revision thereof, affecting the Preliminary Part [where sections 1.2 and 2 are included], Chapter II, Division 1 of Part I; or Part II, the principle of the proposed reform shall be approved by a two-thirds majority of the members of each House, and the Cortes Generales shall immediately be dissolved.

    2. The Houses elected thereupon must ratify the decision and proceed to examine the new constitutional text, which must be passed by a two-thirds majority of the members of each House.

    3. Once the amendment has been passed by the Cortes Generales, it shall be submitted to ratification by referendum’.

  34. 34.

    During the discussion on the possibility of transferring the power to call a referendum to the Catalan Parliament, Mariano Rajoy said: ‘certain things do not change with demonstrations or plebiscites. That is not possible. Now it is not possible. The Constitution was written so that it was not possible. (…) It was not a matter of either political will, or flexibility, or finding a meeting point, or giving in more or less. It is not something that Mr. Mas and I can solve while we are having a coffee; even if we had five hundred, what we do not have will still be lacking: the power that the Constitution does not recognise. (…) This is the reality, unless the Constitution is amended; and the amendment should follow strict rules that cannot be changed’ (Journal of Debates of the CD, no 192, 8 April 2014, p. 13).

  35. 35.

    De Vega (1985).

  36. 36.

    Amendment is alien to constitutional tradition in Spain. Using an expression coined by Pérez Royo, the reluctance to modify the Constitution represents a ‘Spanish anomaly’ (2003). Contrary to other states in Europe (for instance, the German Constitution was amended more than 50 times), only two sections of the Spanish Constitution have been reformed since 1978. Both changes were imposed by the EU: section 13 was modified to comply with the Treaty of Maastricht so that EU citizens were entitled to vote and be elected in local elections; the express reform of section 135 was aimed at limiting public deficit according to the dictates of the Troika. Out of these two exceptions, constitutional revision is seen with suspicion and it has even been described as an attack against the Constitution itself. Some scholars have called this attitude ‘constitutional fundamentalism’ (Velasco 2002; Pérez Royo 2004).

  37. 37.

    Section 167 establishes: ‘1. Bills on constitutional amendments must be approved by a majority of three-fifths of members of each House. If there is no agreement between the Houses, an effort to reach it shall be made by setting up a Joint Committee of an equal number of Deputies and Senators which shall submit a text to be voted on by the Congress and the Senate.

    2. If approval is not obtained by means of the procedure outlined in the foregoing subsection, and provided that the text has been passed by the overall majority of the members of the Senate, the Congress may pass the amendment by a two-thirds vote in favour.

    3. Once the amendment has been passed by the Cortes Generales, it shall be submitted to ratification by referendum, if so requested by one tenth of the members of either House within fifteen days after its passage’.

  38. 38.

    As Requejo has put forward, ‘the political practices of the territorial system depend on the results of the elections to the lower chamber of the central parliament (Congress of Deputies). In other words, the practical operation of the territorial model varies according to whether or not the majority party in the central government wins an absolute majority of seats (establishment or not of parliamentary agreements with the minority territories)’ (2010: 164).

  39. 39.

    Although the PSOE argues for a ‘federal Spain in a federal Europe’ (Sánchez 2015: 13), its federal conception does not call into question the unity of the Spanish nation. In the session where the possibility of transferring the power to call a referendum to the Catalan Parliament was discussed, Pérez Rubalcaba said: ‘we have a serious problem (…) and there are two possibilities. You suggest: we are going to vote to see whether or not we leave; we propose: we are going to sit together, debate and agree on how we continue living together; that is the difference’ (Journal of Debates of the CD, no 192, 8 April 2014, p. 21)—emphasis added. However, in case the PSOE argued for a plural vision of Spain where all nations were on an equal footing—as Pérez Rubalcaba seemed to suggest in other part of his speech (p. 17), then he would have said: ‘we are going to agree whether or not we continue living together and, providing we decide to do it, then we are going to establish how’.

  40. 40.

    Pedro Sánchez, general secretary of the PSOE, recently declared: ‘dialogue has been lacking in one of the issues that should worry us more: the relationships between the central and the Catalan governments. The fact that two democratic governments have been living for almost four years turning their back on each other, calculating the yield of the conflict and without understanding that their calculations are ruining us as a community, cannot be accepted’ (2015: 11).

  41. 41.

    After the experience of the local elections, it is more than likely that Podemos need the support of independent lists of candidates and, even, of United Left (IU). Pablo Iglesias has recently rejected the possibility of creating a unitary list with IU (a unitary left front) in which no party symbols appear, as Alberto Garzón has suggested (see López de Miguel 2015; Picazo and De Delàs 2015). Nonetheless, both parties might reach an agreement after the election. Despite the disagreement with IU, ICV and EUiA (the Catalan branch of IU) seem to get along with Podemos much better: they reached an accord to run together for the next Catalan election in September.

  42. 42.

    Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos, has recently asserted: ‘we think that it is a matter of democratic health to ask Catalans what they want. If I am asked what I want, then I will answer with no hesitation that I would like Catalans to stay and that we can build a country with them. I believe that in this multinational country an identity that a lot of people feel comfortable with can exist. However, who am I to impose this project on Catalans?’ (quoted in Osuna 2014). A joint article written by different representatives of Podemos in peripheral regions (Catalonia, the Basque Country, Galicia and the Balearic Islands) declared: ‘Podemos is the only force with the capacity to rule the Spanish state which supports the right of self-determination. We consider that citizens have to decide the territorial model in which they want to live’ (Ubasart et al. 2015).

  43. 43.

    In Pisarello’s words, ‘if Podemos aspires to be in office and change the current power relations, it will need not only IU or Equo [a green party], but also different nationalist parties, from ERC and Bildu [a Basque left-wing party] to Anova [a Galician left-wing party], ICV, BNG [another Galician left-wing party] or Compromís [a coalition of Valencian left-wing parties]. And the other way round: providing Catalan nationalists want full guarantees to vote and decide, they will need Podemos. Thus, the understanding among different parties that have a constituent, and not merely a reformist, vocation is anything but a chimera’ (2015). In a similar sense, see Asens (2015).

    In a recent interview, Pablo Iglesias left the possibility of reaching pre-electoral agreements with peripheral nationalist parties open, except for Bildu. And the exception is based on ‘different reasons. I think that Bildu is going along a positive path of normalisation and rejection of violence. However, in my opinion more time has to go by before an equivalent level of empathy to that we share with other sectors is achieved’ (cit. en Picazo and De Delàs 2015).

  44. 44.

    Among others, Arcadi Espada, a journalist, Félix de Azúa, a writer, Albert Boadella, a playwright, Francesc de Carreras, a professor of Constitutional Law and Félix Ovejero, a professor of Economy and Social Sciences.

  45. 45.

    The emergence of Podemos, its good prospects of entering office and, particularly, the end of the two-party electoral system frightened the establishment so much, that an alternative was searched for. Traditional parties had implemented unpopular neoliberal policies and many of their most prominent members were implicated in corruption scandals. These were two of the points of the discourse of Podemos which received mass support: a government for the majority, not for a privileged few, and public transparency and accountability. Both the PP and the PSOE were vulnerable to those criticisms, but not C’s, an almost new political party that never before had been in office. Media promotion was decisive for its electoral success in 2015 and, as several scholars have underlined, mass media in Spain are neoliberal and biased (Serrano 2012; Navarro 2015).

  46. 46.

    Cañil (2015). In a similar fashion, Alberto San Juan said: ‘the IBEX 35 wanted a right-wing Podemos and here it is: Ciudadanos’ (cit. in Ibarra 2015). For a different interpretation given by one of the academics who is a member of C’s, see De Carreras (2015a). The article is also an example of the position of this party on national matters.

  47. 47.

    For instance, see Boadella (cit. en ABC 2014), De Carreras (2015b) or Ovejero (2014a, b, c).

  48. 48.

    As Navarro has pointed out, ‘Catalan left-wing parties rather than the Catalan right, traditionally headed the defence of Catalan nationalism’ (cit. in Baiges 2014).

  49. 49.

    CiU has been the governing party in Catalonia since the establishment of democracy in 1978 with the only exception of two terms of office (2003–2006 and 2006–2010) in which three political parties (PSC, ERC and ICV-EUiA) shared power. Those parties were the promoters of the reform of the Statute of Autonomy in 2006, not CiU, although there were attempts to amend the Estatut de Sau since 1980. As De Carreras explains, Jordi Pujol always tried to boycott or smooth out any initiative of reform while he was in office (2005).

  50. 50.

    This is the reason why CiU is very interested in presenting the election as a confrontation between Catalonia and Spain. In case the national issue was not given so much prominence and media attention, social problems would arise in the debate and, as a consequence, the governing party would be electorally punished. In Catalonia, CiU is the main responsible for worsening the living conditions of the working class, with the support of ERC.

  51. 51.

    In Navarro’s words, ‘those policies which are prejudicial for the people of Catalonia have been supported by CiU, and nowadays by ERC’ (cit. in Baiges 2014).

  52. 52.

    CiU is a federation of two parties: CDC and Democratic Union of Catalonia (UDC). It was established in 1978. CDC, the largest party, is more liberal, while the ideology of UDC is Christian democracy. Most members of UDC are not in favour of independence and differences on this issue led the alliance to split on 17 June 2015. The three members of UDC in the Catalan government resigned and UDC will run separately for next regional election. Soon after that, pro-independence members of UDC left that party and created Democrats of Catalonia (Demòcrates de Catalunya) on 12 July 2015.

  53. 53.

    Full the Ruta Unitari del Procés Sobiranista Català. Available at: Accessed 22 June 2015.

  54. 54.

    Público (2015a).

  55. 55.

    Público (2015b).

  56. 56.

    Barcelona in Common (Barcelona in Comú) obtained a simple majority and, with the votes of ERC, CUP and PSC, Ada Colau became the new major of the capital. Let’s Win Badalona in Common (Guanyem Badalona in Comú) was the second force in Badalona, after the PP, but its candidate took office thanks to the support of ERC and ICV-EUiA. In Terrassa, Terrassa in Common (Terrassa in Comú –TeC–) was the second party, after the PSC. CiU did not vote in favour of a joint government composed of TeC, ERC and CUP, so the PSC continues in office.

  57. 57.

    Full de Ruta cap a la Independència (21 March 2015). Available at Accessed 25 June 2015.

  58. 58.

    Puente (2015a).

  59. 59.

    Document de bases per un ampli acord polític i social per la independència, el procés constituent i un paquet de mesures d’urgència (21 March 2015). Available at Accessed 25 June 2015.

  60. 60.

    In addition to it, opinion polls indicated that pro-independence parties may win only in case they run together (Castro 2015a).

  61. 61.

    El Periódico (2015). This proposal was based on the one made by ERC on 19 June 2015, which consisted in creating a unitary left-wing list.

  62. 62.

    Font (2015a).

  63. 63.

    Some days before, on 2 July 2015, Oriol Junqueras, leader of ERC, and David Fernàndez, deputy for the CUP, published a joint article in El Periódico. The political programme for the future that both of them shared could be summarised in three points: ‘independence, zero poverty, zero corruption’ (Junqueras and Fernàndez 2015). The social dimension of the new Catalan republic was underlined and independence was conceived of as a ‘point of departure and not of arrival’ (Junqueras and Fernàndez 2015) to build a more democratic society.

  64. 64.

    Puente (2015b).

  65. 65.

    Road Map of the list CUP-CRIDA Constituent. Available at: Accessed 25 July 2015.

  66. 66.

    The election of an ex-member of ICV to head the list, as well as several references to social justice and welfare contained in the programme of the list Junts pel Sí are aimed at offering an image of commitment with social problems. Not in vain, local elections showed that citizens prefer left-wing coalitions and independent candidates’ lists rather than traditional political parties that implemented neoliberal policies. Artur Mas’ statement pronounced after the resignation of the UDC members of the Govern should be understood in this sense: it is my intention to place ‘social justice at the forefront of the policy and the priorities of the Generalitat of Catalonia’. However, as Febrés has pointed out, ‘the fight against inequality has never been “at the forefront of the policy and the priorities of the Generalitat” (…). It will not be there from now on’ (2015). Oral declarations of intentions are not enough to change reality: Artur Mas is the president who imposed cuts on public services, passed legislation against workers’ rights, and whose party is involved in several cases of corruption. That is why Febrés calls Mas a cynic (2015). The pro-independence branch of ICV decided not to join Romeva’s list. ICV spokeswoman, Sara Vilà, declared that Romeva had fallen into Artur Mas’ trap: ‘he is giving Mas’ neoliberal policies a quick once-over’ (cit. in Molina 2015b).

  67. 67.

    As an anecdote, it can be said that Pep Guardiola, former player and coach of the FC Barcelona and current coach of Bayern Munich, has accepted to be the last candidate on the list. In an interview with the Cadena Cope, Jorge Fernández Díaz, the Spanish Home Secretary, accused him of having played with the Spanish team just for money rather than for patriotism (Europa Press 2015). Considering that in Spain regional teams are excluded from official competitions and that playing in the Spanish team is compulsory for any sportsman or sportswoman who is summoned by the national coach, as section 47.1 of the Act 10/1990 of Sport establishes (Payero 2013), Fernández Díaz’s criticisms seem even more unfair. Lluis Llach, a singer-songwriter, has also agreed to support the unitary list Junts pel Sí.

  68. 68.

    Puente (2015c).

  69. 69.

    It may be wondered why on this occasion Artur Mas would declare independence unilaterally, breaking institutional and legal relations with Spain, whereas some months ago, on 9th November, he decided not to disobey the Constitutional Court’s ban on the referendum call, holding the alternative ‘citizen participation process’. In Pere Ortega’s opinion, the strategy of Junts pel Sí is doomed to failure because apart from the CUP, no other political party interprets regional election as a plebiscite. Consequently, after 27th September everything will be again at the same point of departure: the need to negotiate with the state to hold a referendum (2015). Be that as it may, the truth is that the costs of independence will be considerably higher than those of institutional disobedience. If Mas was not willing to assume the responsibility of the latter in November, why would he be ready to declare the former one year later?

  70. 70.

    Road Map of the list Junts pel Sí. Available at: Accessed 25 July 2015.

  71. 71.

    Nonetheless, if a majority of Catalans opted for independence, ICV would not raise any objection (Puente 2015d).

  72. 72.

    Molina (2015a).

  73. 73.

    La Vanguardia (2015).

  74. 74.

    Font (2015b).

  75. 75.

    Público (2015c).

  76. 76.

    Out of Catalonia, Podemos rejected the possibility of creating a left-wing unitary front by joining the list ‘Now in Common’ (Ahora en Común), composed of members of IU, Equo (a green party) and even of Podemos. Pablo Iglesias justified this divergent course of action by saying that ‘Catalonia is different’ (cit. en Castro 2015b).

  77. 77.

    Declaració per al canvi social i polític a Catalunya. Available at: Accessed 27 July 2015.

  78. 78.

    Molina (2015c).

  79. 79.

    Section 155.1 of the Constitution contains a ‘federal coercion’ clause: ‘if a Self-governing Community does no fulfil the obligations imposed upon it by the Constitution or other laws, or acts in a way that is seriously prejudicial to the general interest of Spain, the Government, after having lodged a complaint with the President of the Self-governing Community and failed to receive satisfaction therefore, may, following approval granted by the overall majority of the Senate, take all measures necessary to compel the Community to meet said obligations, or to protect the above mentioned general interest’. Among those measures, physical force is included. In this sense, section 8.1 reads: ‘the mission of the Armed Forces, comprising the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, is to guarantee the sovereignty and independence of Spain and to defend its territorial integrity and the constitutional order’. Although section 155 has never been used, several politicians have asked for their implementation in order to combat peripheral nationalism: for instance, Rosa Díez, leader of UPyD, Juan Alberto Belloch, former Minister of Justice for the PSOE, Aleix Vidal-Quadras, former MEP for the PP who at the end of 2013 abandoned that party to create VOX, Manuel Fraga, the founder of the PP, Juan Carlos Rodríguez Ibarra, former President of Extremadura for the PSOE, Alfonso Guerra, number two of the PSOE when Felipe González presided over the government, and very recently (22 July 2015), Rafael Catalá, current Minister of Justice.

  80. 80.

    In fact, before 9th November the debate in Catalonia was centred on the so-called ‘right to decide’, while the campaign for 27th September regional election is mainly focused on independence. Catalan nationalist discourse has adopted a more radical position. In line with it, but on the other side, Xavier García Albiol will be the PPC candidate for the next regional election. García Albiol, former major of Badalona, was famous for his racist statements (in the last local election the slogan was ‘Cleaning Badalona’) and embodies the most extreme right within the PP. His election shows that the PPC strategy is to polarise political arena in Catalonia. Moreover, García Albiol has proposed to create a unitary front against Catalan nationalism comprising right-wing and left-wing parties. As it can be seen, it is the same pathway followed by CDC: alliance of political parties on the basis of their national ideology and regardless of their social and economic priorities usually benefits the right.


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The research leading to this article has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007-2013) - ERC Grant Agreement no 312304. I would like to thank Ian L. Bytheway and Prof. Xacobe Bastida Freixedo for reading a previous draft of this article and suggesting very interesting ideas, as well as the anonymous reviewers whose comments helped to improve the final version of this work. Of course, all views expressed are my own.

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Correspondence to Lucía Payero López.

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Payero López, L. The ‘Citizen Participation Process’ in Catalonia: Past, Present And Future. Liverpool Law Rev 36, 237–256 (2015).

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  • Catalan pro-independence political parties
  • Catalan self-determination
  • ‘Citizen participation process’
  • Independence referendum
  • Spanish political parties