Catalonia explained in 21 cards

On September 27, Catalans will go to the polls to vote in an election that will be decisive for the future of Catalonia. These 21 cards aim to explain the intricacies of the so-called ‘Catalan problem’.

Translation: Julia Tena

1 / 21

When did the Catalonian independence process begin?

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Celebración de la Diada de 2014. / JUAN GARCÍA

By Pol Pareja

Although there isn’t a clear moment that marks the beginning of the Catalan independence movement, one of its most significant landmarks was the July 2010 protest over the Constitutional Court’s decision to strike down part of the 2006 autonomy statute, which gave the regional government greater powers and more financial autonomy.

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According to official figures, more than a million people participated in the protest under the slogan Som una Nació. Nosaltres decidim: We are a nation. We decide. The leader of the march was socialist José Montilla, then president of the Generalitat.

Another important milestone took place a year before. On September 2009, Catalonia’s first “independence consultation” vote took place in the town of Areyns de Munt (a town of 8.600 citizens). From September 2009 until April 2011, hundreds of Catalan towns (including Barcelona) organised similar consultations. In total, 833.599 Catalans participated in these referendums.

Some people believe that the Catalan independence movement was born after a protest on September 11, 2012. Under the slogan Catalunya, nou Estat d’Europa (Catalonia, new state of Europe), hundreds of thousands of Catalans went out in the streets to celebrate la Diada (Catalonia’s National Day) and ask for independence. This march took place nine days before Mariano Rajoy’s government rejected the application of a fiscal system in Catalonia that would have granted the region more autonomy; similar to the current fiscal system used in the Basque country and the government of Navarre.

2 / 21

Who has supported the Catalan independence movement in the past?

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Retrato de Francesc Macià elaborado en Camagüey (Cuba).

By Pol Pareja

In 1918, Federació Nacionalista Catalana de Francesc Macià was the first party that overtly supported independence to win a seat in the Catalan parliament. The party won two seats in each of the elections between 1919 and 1923.

During this time, the Catalan nationalist vote was absorbed by a party that didn’t support independence: La Lliga Regionalista de Francesc Cambó. This faction won 14 seats in 1919 and 1920 and 20 seats in 1923.

During The Second Spanish Republic, Esquerra Republicana (ERC) was the hegemonic party in Catalonia. It easily won five elections between 1931 and 1936. Two of Catalonia’s presidents during this time, both from Esquerra Republicana, supported independence.

The first one was Francesc Macià. In April 1931, he proclaimed a “Catalan Republic within the Iberian Federation”, but was forced to settle for partial autonomy within the new Spanish Republic.

Macià was succeeded by Lluís Companys. In October 1934, Companys took advantage of the tension derived from the worker’s revolution in Asturias to proclaim a “Catalan State within the Spanish Federal Republic”. The Government declared a state of war, Companys was imprisoned and the autonomic Government was suspended. However, Companys was re-elected as president of Catalonia in 1936 after the victory of the Frente Popular, a left-wing coalition that included Esquerra Republicana.

After Spain’s transition to democracy, support for independence has been mixed. Esquerra Republicana has oscillated between the five seats that it won in 1984 and the 23 that it obtained in 2003. In the 2012 elections, Esquerra Republicana and two other parties that support independence, CiU and CUP, obtained a total of 74 seats (68 seats are required for an absolute majority).

Parliament seats

Since June 2005, Spain’s Centre for Sociological Research (CIS) has polled Catalans several times on the issue of independence in Catalonia. In June 2005, 13.6% of those surveyed said they wanted “an independent state”. In March 2015, the last available survey, this number had increased to 39.1%. The most supportive moment for independence came in February 2013: 48.5% of those surveyed were in favour of an independent state.

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Why does a part of Catalonia want to be independent?

By Pol Pareja

Although there are many reasons why Catalans want to be independent, we can broadly categorize them into two main arguments.

The pragmatic argument is that Catalonia will be better off, both politically and economically, if it separates from Spain. The more sentimental reason people use to support independence is the belief that Catalonia is a nation that should be able to govern itself.


catalan government budget

One of the main economic arguments concerns Catalonia’s fiscal deficit, or the difference between the money it pays to Madrid and the money it gets back. In June 2015 the Catalan government said this deficit was 15 .000 million euros, while the central government said it was 8.455 million euros. Some people believe that without this deficit the government of Catalonia could have avoided some of the cuts it has had to implement over the last few years. They also believe that Catalonia has been discriminated against for political reasons when it comes to state funding (an example they use is the late arrival of the high speed train AVE to Barcelona).

Catalonia's expenditure

Other people argue that Catalonia should be independent because The Spanish Constitution of 1978 can’t allow more autonomy to Catalonia. According to the latest polls, 63% of Catalans believe that they have “an insufficient level of autonomy”. The Constitutional Court’s decision to strike down part of the 2006 autonomy statute has also been used as an example of why autonomy is no longer the answer.

relationship spain catalonia

Catalan nationalists also defend independence as the best (or only way) to preserve the Catalan language in education. The deep political and institutional crisis that has engulfed Spain over the past years has also been used as a reason to “leave Spain” and “start all over again” in a “new country”.

4 / 21

What is the right to decide?

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Diada de 2014. / JUAN GARCÍA

By Pol Pareja

The “right to decide” is the expression that nationalists use to ask for a referendum over Catalonia’s independence. According to the polls, 74% of Catalans were in favour of holding a referendum in 2012.

The Spanish Constitution authorizes only the state to hold a referendum. In January 2014, the Spanish parliament rejected a proposal by Catalonia’s regional assembly to hold a referendum on independence. The parties that voted against the proposal were PP, PSOE, UPyD, UPN and Foro Asturias. The parties that voted in favour were CiU, PNV, ERC, ICV and Grupo Mixto.

The most prevalent criticism against holding a referendum is that “the right to decide” or the right to self-determination is not mentioned within the Spanish Constitution. However, nationalists claim that a referendum is supported by the vast majority of Catalans, and therefore it must be addressed in political terms. They also argue that the right to self-determination has been recognized as a human right by the UN.

The referendum of Scotland in 2014 and Quebec’s consultations in 1980 and 1995 are also used by nationalists as a reason to hold a referendum in Catalonia. This option was also not contemplated in the constitutions of these countries, but it was made possible after many political deals and, in the case of the United Kingdom, because there isn’t a written Constitution that can limit the actions of Parliament.

referéndum-Quebec-y-Escocia_ENG

After the referendum of 1995, in which the people of Quebec voted against sovereignty by a small margin, the Canadian Parliament passed the Clarity Act. This law allows any region of the country to separate if a clear majority of people are in favour of it. The document also states that a territorial division should be made between regions that want to stay in Canada and regions that want to be independent.

In the case of a referendum, the Canadian House of Commons has the last word in two key aspects: First, whether the question of the consultation is sufficiently clear, and second, whether a clear majority has been reached.

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What is “the third way”?

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By Albert Olaya

The “third way” is a series of political initiatives that grant more autonomy to Catalonia. This course of action was particularly popular after regional head Artur Mas was re-elected in 2012 and promised to hold a referendum on secession from Spain in 2014.

PSC and Unió Democrática came up with a number of proposals in line with this “third way”. PSC proposed to reform the Spanish Constitution and asked the state to agree on a sovereignty consultation and to grant more autonomy to Catalonia in areas such as health, language and education. Unió Democrática also asked the state to hold a referendum and to recognize Catalonia’s special status in the Spanish Constitution.

Catalan pro-independence forces have always been critical of this “third way”. They believe that a constitutional reform and an agreement with the State on a referendum is impossible, since both PP and PSOE would have to support it, as well as three fifths of the Senate and the House of Commons.  

So far the “third way” has had significant support in Catalonia. According to a 2013 El País poll, 40% of Catalans would be in favour of this option if a referendum took place. Although this alternative has been pushed aside in the forthcoming election, PSC is still in favour of this “third way”. A new proposal by the Socialists’ Party of Catalonia, backed by PSOE, asks for the recognition of Catalonia’s special status in the Spanish Constitution, giving up a sovereignty consultation.

6 / 21

The election of September 27 is the third Catalan election in only five years. Why?

By Pol Pareja

Catalans have been called to the polls three times since the election of November 28, 2010. In the 2010 election CiU won 62 seats and put an end to seven years of tripartite formed by PSC , ERC and ICV . In their electoral program, CiU did not yet defend the independence of Catalonia. They asked for their own tax system and the “right to decide on the measures of self-government that the people of Catalonia demand and need.”

On September 2012, some 1.5m people participated in Catalonia’s annual independence rally in Barcelona. On September 20, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy rebuffed Artur Mas’ request for greater fiscal independence, and Mas called early regional elections for November 25, 2012.

In this election CiU presented an electoral program arguing that Catalonia should have its own state, and promised to make a consultation “in accordance with the law” on whether Catalans wanted to separate from Spain. The early elections, however, did not benefit CiU, which went from 62 to 50 seats when their aim was to achieve an absolute majority. ERC absorbed the independents’ vote and went from 10 to 21 members of parliament. CiU has ruled in a minority ever since through a “stability pact “with ERC, which promised to support Mas as long as a consultation on independence took place in 2014.

After Congress’ refusal to allow a legal referendum in Catalonia, Mas decided to convene another election for September 27 2015, and described as a “plebiscitarian election”. The pro-independence movement (with the exception of the anti-capitalist CUP) has coalesced into a single list of candidates that includes candidates from CDC and ERC, as well as civil organizations that support independence, former members of other parties, and people that until now had not been involved in politics.

7 / 21

Why have several historical Catalan parties broken up?

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By Íñigo Zulet

The sovereignty debate has caused friction in some of Catalonia’s oldest parties. The hardest hit have been CiU and PSC.

CiU

CiU was a federation created in 1978 and dissolved in June 2015, formed by the Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC) and the Democratic Union of Catalonia (UDC). The different approach taken by the two parties regarding independence has ended up dissolving this coalition.

The crisis began in the sixteenth CDC conference, held in March 2012, when the party decided to include the achievement of a “home state” as a political objective. At first, UDC gave in to this demand and included the concept of “home state” in their 2012 electoral program. However, after the 2012 election UDC became increasingly uncomfortable with its partners’ discourse. In June 2015 UDC held an internal consultation, and the party base voted against adopting CDC’s political objectives and called instead for an agreed referendum with the state  on independence. In the end, the three counsellors that UDC had in Mas’ executive left and the federation broke down.

PSC

After the Constitutional Court in Madrid stroke down part of the 2006 autonomy statute in 2010, some critical voices within the PSC began to ask for independence. In 2012, as the debate over the right to choose intensified, tension within the party escalated. The first member to leave -in October 2012- was Ernest Maragall. Maragall then founded a new party, Nova Esquerra Catalana, a left wing project that clearly favoured independence.

The breakdown of PSC took place on January 16, 2014. That day, three of its members (Marina Geli, Nuria Ventura and Joan Ignasi Elena) broke party discipline and voted in favour of asking Congress to transfer powers to the Catalan Government in order to hold a referendum on independence. Six months later, Joan Ignasi Elena created a party called Avancem, a socialist party that favours independence. Another former member of PSC, Toni Montín, started the association Socialisme, Catalunya i Llibertat, (Socialism, Catalonia and Freedom), a platform that now supports the Junts pel Sí coalition.

8 / 21

Why hasn’t there been a referendum yet?

By David López Frías

According to Article 149 of the Spanish Constitution, only the state can authorize a referendum.

The Constitution allows three types of referendum: consultative (article 92), in case of constitutional reform (articles 167 and 168), and to revise the autonomy statute (articles 151 and 152). A referendum over the independence of Catalonia would fall into the first category. However, the article specifies that “political decisions of special importance may be referred to a consultative referendum of all citizens”.

Therefore the Constitution does not contemplate the possibility of holding a consultation where only a limited number of people can participate.

referéndum-Cataluña_1979_2006

9 / 21

What is a “plebiscitarian election”?

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By David López Frías

A plebiscite is a referendum: the voter answers yes or no to a specific question. In an election, voters are required to vote for parties, candidates or programs. The second difference between an election and a plebiscite lies in the result: In referendums what counts are the votes, while in elections you count seats.

Artur Mas’ first proposal was to call for a referendum on Catalan independence. This referendum was allowed under a law that had been approved by the Catalan government called the “Consultation Act”. However Spain’s Constitutional Court ruled in February that both the law and the referendum were unconstitutional.

The Catalan president then decided to hold regional elections as if they were a plebiscite: depending on the party that voters give their vote to, they’ll be demonstrating their support or their rejection to Catalonia’s separation from Spain.

Spanish’s Election Law (LOREG) does not contemplate the possibility of a “plebiscitarian election”, since this concept does not exist in the Spanish legal system. Therefore the plebiscitarian aspect of this election is only interpretative.


10 / 21

What can the Spanish state do to avoid Catalonia’s independence?

estado vs indepe

By Íñigo Zulet

Once all diplomatic means are exhausted, the Spanish state has several ways to stop Catalonia from becoming independent. In an extreme scenario, the state could apply article 155 of the Spanish Constitution. This article allows the central Government to take over the regional Government’s capabilities, and could be applied if Catalonia does not fulfil ” its obligations under the Constitution” or acts in a manner that severely threatens “Spain’s general interests”.

The article states that the Government should first approach the Catalan president. Only if the President does not change his attitude can the Senate, if the proposal obtains an absolute majority, adopt the necessary means to force him to fulfil his obligations.

The state also has the option to declare a state of emergency, as contemplated under Article 116 of the Constitution and regulated by Organic Law 4/1981, which was passed after the coup d’etat of February 23, 1981. The law establishes that a state of emergency should only be applied when “the situation cannot be settled by any other means”.

Before reaching this scenario, the Government can resort to judicial or constitutional means, for example by challenging the election or by applying the Penal Code, which in its Title XXI regulates crimes against the Constitution, including rebellion.

The legislative branch can also reform the Constitutional Court. In fact, despite opposition from all other parties, the Popular Party Parliamentary Group has introduced a bill to reform the Constitutional Court in order to allow this body to fine and even suspend ruling officials who do not comply with its judgments and resolutions. This reform is being processed and is expected to pass Congress on September 29.

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What is the Catalan National Assembly?

By Albert Olaya

In 2009, a group of politicians led by Catalan architect Pere Pugès decided to create a citizen-based independence movement. The challenge was to unite the different factions that favoured independence but were historically divided by ideological and economic differences. After years of debate, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) was finally born in April 2011.

On March 2012, the ANC held its constituent assembly at a rally at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona. The Articles of Association were approved and their main political objective was established: to hold a referendum on independence by 2014. The entity then had about 300 regional assemblies and was supported by a number of well-known Catalan personalities.

In April 2012, the ANC appointed linguist and activist Carme Forcadell as president of the association. Under her leadership, this entity organised some of the largest demonstrations in the history of Catalonia, such as the “Catalunya nou Estat d’Europa” rally of 2012 and the “Concert for Freedom” at Camp Nou in June 2013.

The ANC has 34,000 affiliated supporters, more than 40,000 supporters who do not pay fees but cooperate with the entity voluntarily, and about 600 regional assemblies in Catalonia. It plays a key role as spokesman for the Catalan pro-independence movement.  Convergència and Esquerra Republicana don’t usually act without its approval.

Forcadell resigned as president on May 2015 and is now the number two candidate in the Junts pel Sí ticket for September 27.

12 / 21

What is the Advisory Council for the National Transition (CATN)?

By Albert Olaya

The Advisory Council for the National Transition is a body that the Catalan government created in 2013 in order to advise the government on the best ways to achieve independence. It is presided by Carles Viver Pi-Sunyer, who used to be a justice at Spain’s Constitutional Court. The council has another 13 members, including well-known personalities such as Economic professor Germà Bel and journalist Pilar Rahola.

In 2014, CATN published a book outlining the steps the Government of Catalonia should follow to seize independence. This book explains how to hold a referendum on independence, how to internationalize the conflict, and which state structures should be created in order to prepare Catalonia for secession.

In order to coordinate and implement CATN‘s proposals before September 27, the Government created The Commissioner for National Transition on February 2015. The person in charge of this entity is also Carles Viver Pi-Sunyer. This second organ is suspended until the end of the year, since the Constitutional Court is currently processing the state’s claim that this council creates a conflict of jurisdiction.

13 / 21

Who will be president after September 27?

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Artur Mas, Raül Romeva y Oriol Junqueras en un acto de Junts pel Sí. / JUNTS PEL SÍ

By Íñigo Zulet

All polls published so far predict that the Junts pel Sí (JxSí) coalition will win the election on September 27. Most polls, with the exception of El Punt Avui, predict that the pro-independence movement will win but won’t achieve an absolute majority.

average votes

These figures suggest two possible scenarios: The first possibility, although it is also the least likely, is that Artur Mas’ coalition will get an absolute majority of 68 MPs or more. In this context, Mas would repeat mandate without needing to reach any political deals. The second most likely scenario is that the Junts pel Sí coalition will need an agreement with the pro-independence CUP to govern, although this party has already stated that it will not support Mas’ candidacy.

Although it is likely that Mas will be the next president, electoral prospects are not the only thing that matters. Candidates are also important: Parties such as CUP or Sí que es Pot could reach an agreement with Junts pel Sí if Mas backed down and the leader of the electoral list, Raül Romeva, became the candidate for President of Catalonia.

14 / 21

What will the pro-independence movement do next?

plan de ruta

By Albert Olaya

Junts pel Sí will launch the process of independence if it obtains an absolute majority in the Catalan parliament. There are two possible scenarios: Either the party obtains 68 MPs or more or it can reach an agreement with pro-independence CUP.

The first step on the route to independence would be to approve a statement in Parliament informing Spanish and international institutions that the independence process has begun. Junts pel Sí is planning to start negotiating the terms of independence with the Spanish government after the election. If the state refuses to negotiate, the independence coalition will declare unilateral independence. Catalan institutions would no longer recognize Spanish law, and the outcome would be unpredictable.

If the state recognizes the referendum, Catalonia would remain a part of Spain until the new government’s state structures are established and Catalonia has sufficient international support. This process could last several months. During that time, the Catalonian government would continue operating as always, and Catalan society would be asked to propose the basis for a new Constitution through a process of citizen participation, although the details of this process have not yet been explained.

Once the new state structures are ready, Parliament will proclaim Catalonia’s independence. When will this happen? According to Europa Press, Convergència Democrática and Esquerra Republicana have privately agreed that the process should take six to eight months, but neither party has made this public. Immediately after proclaiming independence, the Catalan Parliament would approve the “Legal transitory law” in order to avoid any legal loopholes, and the “Law of the constitutional process” in order to begin the process of drafting the new constitution.

After these two laws are approved, the Catalan government would call for a parliamentary election, which should take place 18 months after September 27. It is impossible to know which parties would stand in these elections, but if there were another pro-independence majority, Catalans would be asked to approve and ratify Catalonia’s new constitution.

15 / 21

Can an independent Catalonia remain in the European Union?

By Juan Sanhermelando

No. An independent Catalonia would automatically be left out of the European Union and would have to request new membership in order to be readmitted. Catalonia’s admission into the European Union would have to be unanimously supported by all member states, which means that any of them, including Spain, could veto the procedure.

The European Union has been clear on this point: “If part of the territory of a Member State ceases to be part of that State to become a new independent state, the treaties would no longer apply in that territory. In other words, a new independent state would, by the fact of its independence, become a third country with respect to the EU, and the Treaties would no longer apply on its territory.”

This is the EU’s position, according to a statement by former president of the European Council Hermann Van Rompuy in 2013. Former president of the European Commission José Manuel Durão Barroso also expressed this same view to member of the European Parliament Ramon Tremosa.

The European Union treaties also state that the EU must “respect the essential functions of the States, as well as ensuring their territorial integrity.” That is the reason why Angela Merkel stated that respect for “territorial integrity” and “compliance with national and international law” were crucial when she was asked about Catalonia’s independence on September 1.

The former European Union’s legal services director goes even further and claims that a unilateral declaration of independence from Catalonia could never be recognized by any member state of the European Union.

However, pro-independence leaders such as Artur Mas have said that existing legislation does not cover Catalonia’s situation and therefore remain confident that European leaders will be “pragmatic” and allow Catalonia to remain in the European Union.

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Would an independent Catalonia keep the Euro as its currency?

euro

By David López Frías

The Euro is the currency used by 19 member states of the European Union.

There are two types of countries that do not belong to the European Union but still use the Euro as their official currency. The first group is composed by four micro nations: Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and The Vatican. The second group are the former Yugoslavian republics of Kosovo and Montenegro.

These four micro nations have a “monetary agreement” with the European Union. In 1999, Kosovo and Montenegro adopted a foreign currency, as ordered by the United Nations. This body’s aim was to keep these two countries away from Serbian economic influence.  In the beginning, they used the German mark, and after its disappearance they adopted the Euro. Nowadays both Kosovo and Montenegro use the Euro as their official currency, but they do not belong to the European Union and have to buy this currency through the mediation of commercial banks.

Each country has the power to unilaterally choose the official currency of its own territory. If Catalonia becomes independent, it could keep using the Euro, but it would use it as a foreign currency, and Catalonia wouldn’t have a say in European economic institutions.

Furthermore, Catalonia would be detached from the European Central Bank, and its financial institutions would not longer be part of the banking union.

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What does Catalonia need to be recognized as a member of the United Nations?

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By David López Frías

Catalonia would need the recommendation of nine of the 15 members of the Security Council in order to become a member of the United Nations. Any of the five permanent members (United States, Russia, France, China and the United Kingdom) could put an end to this process.

If Catalonia secures the support of the Security Council, the next step would be to ask for the General Assembly’s approval. In order to become a member, Catalonia would need the support of two thirds of this body. If the process fails, Catalonia can still request to become an observer state. This is the status Palestine has at the moment, and it would give Catalonia the right to participate in the General Assembly meetings -although Catalonia would not be able to vote or become a member of the Security Council.

Spain’s Foreign Ministry has produced a report ruling out this possibility. According to the document, “no constitution in the world considers the possibility of secession” and recalls that self-determination only applies to “people under colonial domination, annexation by conquest, foreign domination or occupation, or people oppressed by massive and flagrant human rights violations”.

Kosovo has been recognized as a state by more than a hundred countries. However, it has not secured the support of the two thirds of the General Assembly required to become a member of the United Nations. Some countries still maintain a hostile stance towards this new state due to its unilateral declaration of independence.

On the other side, South Sudan’s secession was agreed to by Sudan. Six months after its declaration of independence in July 2011, South Sudan gained international recognition and became a full member of the United Nations.

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If Catalonia became independent, what would the consequences for Spain be?

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By Rubén J. Lapetra

Markets do not like surprises. An independent Catalonia would generate an increased financial risk for Spain, since the state is the main creditor to Catalonia’s debt and its local entities through the Regional Liquidity Fund (€64.000 million in total).  

Indirect debt (the debt that corresponds to Catalonia for participating in the current administrative framework and its GDP economic weight), would add another €180,000 million.

Most investors agree: secession would increase investment risks. Prime risk would soar substantially as investors’ demands increase in a country that is about to change its laws and redefine its borders.

Without Catalonia, Spain would lose 20 percent of its economic power and also 16 percent of its current population –a crucial factor when it comes to member state representation in the EU. Secession, however, would have a lesser impact on Spain than on Catalonia because Spain is already part of all international institutions.  

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Where will Barça and Espanyol play if Catalonia achieves independence?

fc barcelona liga

By David López Frías

La Liga (LFP) is an association integrated by the 42 clubs that participate in the two Spanish professional divisions: 20 teams in First Division and 22 in Second Division. For the 2015-16 season, Catalonia will have five clubs: FC Barcelona, Espanyol, Girona, Llagostera and Gimnàstic de Tarragona.

Only LFP could expel one of its members. However, and even though the LFP has its own jurisdiction, the LFP is part of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), an independent institution whose responsibilities involve “controlling the official competitions statewide”.

The LFP cannot make unilateral decisions about which teams can partake in the Spanish league. The RFEF does not have the ability to expel the Catalan teams from the LFP, but it could ban them from competing in the Spanish tournament. Both institutions depend on the Consejo Superior de Deportes (CSD), the institution that would have the final decision on which clubs could participate in the Spanish leagues.

The LFP has talked about the risks Catalonia’s independence would cause. The LFP’s president, Javier Tebas, mentioned in a Spanish radio show “ that the problem is a legal issue” and that the Catalan teams wouldn’t be able to play in La Liga “because the Sports Act includes an additional provision which states that the only non-Spanish state that can participate in La Liga is Andorra”.

Thus, the Spanish Parliament would have to amend the law in order to allow the Catalan teams to continue playing football in the Spanish league. Otherwise, they would have to create their own league.

There is another option for these football clubs: another country could allow them to play in their league. There was speculation a few years ago about Catalan clubs joining the French league. UEFA, however, could hamper this scenario since they can ban clubs from participating in any European club competitions if the team switches federations or plays in a different country outside its own.

Barça and Espanyol are part of the RFEF, so if they switched to a different federation they would not be able to participate in the Champions League or the Europa League. According to Article 51 of the UEFA statutes, Catalonia would need UEFA’s authorization in order to play in these competitions, as well as Spain’s approval.

RFEF does not usually allow this change. There are very few exceptions: Andorra, (which is part of the Spanish league since before the Andorran Football Federation was founded), Swansea or Cardiff (which chose not to join the league of Wales when it was created in 1992) and Monaco (which does not have its own federation and is therefore part of France’s).

UEFA has not yet allowed football associations to integrate in order to unify leagues. This body stopped initiatives such as the integration of Scottish teams (Celtic and Rangers) in the English Premier League, the creation of an Atlantic championship with Dutch clubs, Belgian, Scottish and Scandinavians, or the reinstatement of the Soviet tournament with teams from Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine.

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Can Catalans retain their Spanish nationality in an independent Catalonia?

nacionalidad doble

By Íñigo Zulet

Most pro-independence forces such as CDC, ERC or ANC are in favour of dual nationality. The Constitution also states that “a Spanish person cannot be deprived of his or her nationality”. Therefore, it is likely that Catalans would retain their Spanish nationality in an independent Catalonia.

However, this does not necessarily mean that Catalans would have dual nationality. The Spanish Civil code establishes that in case of dual nationality the Spanish nationality should always prevail if law or international treaties do not recognize the second one.  In other words, if the state did not recognize Catalonia’s independence, Catalans could not use their Catalan nationality in Spain, or in any other countries that did not recognize the Catalan state. Catalans could only use their Spanish nationality when travelling to other countries.

If Catalonia became independent, there would be a number of choices: A dual nationality model (Catalan and Spanish), the subordination of one of the nationalities, or the free choice of each Catalan between the two of them.

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Would an independent Catalonia allow a consultation in the Val d’Aran?

By Íñigo Zulet

The Val d’Aran is a valley in the Pyrenees Mountains, in the northwestern part of the province of Lleida, Catalonia. It is part of Catalonia through a special self-government regime. The Catalonian independence movement has opened a debate among the Aranese about their future and their relationship with Catalonia and Spain. The Aranese people have stated that they want to hold their own referendum.

Catalonia’s president Artur Mas has already said that he will not forbid a consultation in the Val d’Aran. ERC has also stated that they are in favour of recognizing the right to self-determination of this territory.

The Val d’Aran has had a distinctive identity throughout history for a number of reasons. First, it is linguistically different from the rest of Spain: Catalan, Spanish and Aranese coexist as the main languages of the valley. The territory’s autonomy dates back to the Middle Ages, when in 1313 King James II of Aragon granted the valley with its own institutions and a number of special privileges. This special scheme was abolished in the early 19th century due to the centralizing policy of the State. In 1990, the autonomy of the Val d’Aran was restored and its historical rights were re-established.