Estatute of autonomy

Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia

The Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia provides Catalonia's basic institutional regulations. It defines the rights and obligations of the citizens of Catalonia, Spain, the political institutions of the Catalan nationality, their competences and relations with the rest of Spain and the financing of the Government of Catalonia.

This Law was approved by referendum 18 June 2006 and supplants the Statute of Sau, which dated from 1979.


In 1919, a first project of Statute was started by the Mancomunitat de Catalunya.

In 1928, a project of Constitution was written in Havana for some exiled nationalists.

Catalonia first obtained a Statute of Autonomy in 1932, during the Second Spanish Republic. This law was abolished by General Francisco Franco after the Spanish Civil War, largely because Catalonia had been a region mostly opposed to Franco's Nacionales forces. During his rule, public usage of the Catalan language, and, specially, Catalan self-government were harshly suppressed.

In 1979, during the Spanish transition to democracy, the second Statute was approved in referendum.

On June 18, 2006, a referendum amending the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia of 1979 to further expand the authority of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Catalan's government, was approved, and became effective on 9 August 2006.

This referendum was noted for its unprecedentedly high abstention with a voter turnout below 50%. It was also noted for its uneasy forging, since tensions regarding its final redaction within the coalition government which originally promoted the Statute led to an early regional election in 2006.


  • The 1931 referendum on the Statute of Autonomy registered a voter turnout of 75.13%, from which 99.49% voted favourably to its passing, at least according to the official results released.
  • The 1979 referendum on the Statute of Autonomy registered a voter turnout of 59.7%, from which 88.1% voted favorably.
  • The 2006 referendum voting the current version of the Statute registered a voter turnout of 48.85%. From the total votes, 73.24% were in favour of the new Statute, while 20.57% were against. All in all, roughly 1/3 of the electorate voted for the current version of the Statute, the rest either did not attend the polls or voted against it.

Self-government under the statute

Catalonia is an Autonomous Community in the Kingdom of Spain, with the status of historical region in the Spanish Constitution of 1978. In September 2005, the Parliament of Catalonia approved the definition of Catalonia as a nation in the preamble of the new Statute of Autonomy (autonomous basic law). The 120 delegates of all parties (CiU, PSC, ERC, ICV-EA) with the exception of the 15 delegates of the Partido Popular approved this definition. In the opinion of the Spanish Government this does have a declaratory but not legal value, since the Spanish Constitution recognizes the indissoluble "unity of the Spanish Nation".

The Generalitat de Catalunya is the institution in which the self-government of Catalonia is politically organised. It consists of the Parliament, the President of the Generalitat and the Executive Council or Government of Catalonia.

The Statute of Autonomy gives the Generalitat of Catalonia the powers which enable it to carry out self-government. These can be exclusive, concurrent and shared with the Spanish State or executives. The Generalitat holds jurisdiction in various matters of culture, education, health, justice, environment, communications, transportation, commerce, public safety and local governments. Catalonia has its own police force, the Mossos d'Esquadra, although the Spanish government keep agents in the region for matters relating to border control, terrorism and immigration.

Most of the justice system is administered by Spanish judicial institutions. The legal system is uniform throughout Spain, with the exception of so-called "civil law", which is administered separately within Catalonia


A number of intellectuals critic with Catalan nationalism have pointed out what they describe as an "identitary obsession amongst most of Catalan politicians and the media establishment. They quote the unprecedently high abstention in the referendum regarding the Statute as a symptom of those cited sectors being out of synch with the average populace. As a result of this opinion trend, a new political party sprung out Ciutadans - Partido de la Ciudadanía. It entered the Catalan Parliament after the 2006 Catalan Parliament election, held soon after the Statute was passed, gaining three seats and thus becoming the sixth political party with representation in this Parliament.

The Statute been legally contested by the surrounding Autonomous Communities of Aragon, Balearic Islands and the Valencian Community, as well as by the Partido Popular (the main opposition party at the Spanish Parliament). The objections are based on various topics such as disputed cultural heritage but, specially, on the Statute alleged breaches of the "solidarity between regions" principle enshrined by the Constitution in fiscal and educational matters. As of December 2007, the Constitutional Court of Spain is assessing the constitutionality of the challenged articles, its binding assessment is expected for 2008

On the opposite side, Catalan left-wing separatists, such as ERC or C.U.P, think that the statute doesn't give Catalonia enough self government. They cite the high abstention as proof that Catalans wanted further self-government but felt disappointed with the statute.

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