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.
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.
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 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
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.