Generalitat of Catalonia

Generalitat of Catalonia

Not to be confused with the equivalent and homonymous institution of the Valencian Community, called Generalitat Valenciana
The Generalitat de Catalunya ("Government of Catalonia" ) is the institution under which the Spanish Autonomous Community of Catalonia is politically organised. It consists of the Parliament, the President of the Generalitat and the Executive Council or Government of Catalonia.


Medieval origins

The Generalitat of Catalonia stems from the medieval institution which ruled, in the name of the King of the Crown of Aragon, some aspects of the administration of the Principality of Catalonia. The first Catalan constitution is that of the Corts of Barcelona from 1283. The last was promulgated by the Corts of 1702. The Generalitat was, in the Late Middle Ages, the chief governing institution of Catalonia after the Monarch himself.

First abolition

Catalonian institutions which depended on the Generalitat were abolished in what is currently known in Catalonia as "Northern Catalonia", one year after the signature of the Treaty of the Pyrenees in the 17th century, which transferred the territory from Spanish to French sovereignty.

Then, by the early 18th century, as the Decretos de Nueva Planta were passed in Spain, the institution was abolished in the Spanish territory as well.

First restoration

The Generalitat of Catalonia was restored in Spanish Catalonia and given its modern political and representative function as the regional government of Catalonia in 1932, during the Second Spanish Republic.

After the right wing coalition won the Spanish elections in 1934, the leftist leaders of the Generalitat of Catalonia rebelled against the Spanish authorities, and was temporarily suspended from 1934 to 1936.

Second abolition

In 1939, as the Spanish Civil War finished with the defeat of the Republican side, the institution was abolished and remained so during all the Francoist dictatorship.

Second restoration

The succession of presidents of the Generalitat was maintained in exile from 1939 to 1977, when Josep Tarradellas returned to Catalonia and was recognized as the legitimate president by the Spanish government. Tarradellas, when he returned to Catalonia, made his often quoted remark Ciutadans de Catalunya: ja sóc aquí (Citizens of Catalonia: I am back here, now!), reassuming the autonomous powers of Catalonia, one of the historic nationalities of present-day Spain.

After this, the powers given to the autonomous Catalan government according to the Spanish Constitution of 1978 were transferred and the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia (Estatut d'Autonomia) was passed after being approved both by referendum in Catalonia and by the Spanish Cortes Generales.

Current status

José Montilla is the president-elect of the Generalitat (also leader of the Socialist Party), and is backed up by a tripartite coalition of left-wing and Catalan nationalist political parties. His party actually won fewer seats in parliament than the main opposition party in the 2006 election, but as he gathered more support from MPs from other parties in the parliament, he was able to repeat the same coalition government that his predecessor (Pasqual Maragall) had formed in order to send CiU to the opposition for the first time after 23 years of Jordi Pujol's government.

On June 18, 2006, a reformed version was approved of the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia and went into effect in August. In its inception, the reform was promoted by both the leftist parties in the government and by the main opposition party (CiU), which were united in pushing for increased devolution of powers from the Spanish government level, enhanced fiscal autonomy and finances, and explicit recognition of Catalonia's national identity; however the details of its final redaction were harhsly fought and the subject became a major controversial issue in the Catalan political scenario.

An autonomous system of government

The Generalitat consists of the Executive Council, the President and the Parliament. Some people wrongly apply this name only to the Council as if it were the same as Cabinet only; however, Generalitat de Catalunya is the (autonomous) Catalan system as a whole.

The region has gradually achieved a greater degree of autonomy since 1979. After Navarre and the Basque Country regions, Catalonia has the greatest level of self-government in Spain. The Generalitat holds exclusive and wide jurisdiction in various matters of culture, environment, communications, transportation, commerce, public safety and local governments. In many aspects relating to education, health and justice, the region shares jurisdiction with the Spanish government.

One of the examples of Catalonia's degree of autonomy is its own police force, the Mossos d'Esquadra, which is currently taking over most of the police functions in Catalonia which used to be served by the Guardia Civil and the Policía Nacional.

With few exceptions, most of the justice system is administered by national judicial institutions. The legal system is uniform throughout the Spanish State, with the exception of so-called "civil law". This is administered separately within Catalonia. As another institution stemming from the Generalitat, but indepedent from it in its check and balance functions, there is a Síndic de Greuges (ombudsman) to address problems that may arise between private citizens or organizations and the Generalitat or local governments.

International presence

As an autonomous community of Spain, Catalonia has no official status or recognition at any international level. However, as the region has progressively gained a greater degree of autonomy in recent years, the Catalan Government, as most of the other regional governments in Europe, has opened some representative offices acting as a lobby in Brussels –before the European Union institutions– and overseas as well, including cities such as Sydney, San Francisco, Santiago de Chile and Johannesburg.

Most of these offices abroad carry out limited functions such as the promotion of Catalan culture, trade and foreign investment, and even the hiring of foreign labour (with a view toward easing problems with illegal immigration).

There are no specifically Catalan political institutions in "Northern Catalonia", the French département of Pyrénées-Orientales. However, since September 5, 2003, there has been a Casa de la Generalitat in Perpignan, which aims to promote Catalan culture and facilitate exchanges between each side of the Franco-Spanish border.

See also


External links

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