The report „The Consultation on the political future of Catalonia“ analizes the legal, political and procedural elements which concern the organization of a referendum about the political future of Catalonia.
Der Bericht „The Consultation on the political future of Catalonia“ untersucht die rechtliche, politische und verfahrensmässige Elemente, die die Organisation eines Referendums über die politische Zukunft Kataloniens betreffen.
The Consultation on the political future of Catalonia
The present report analyses de facto situation and the juridical, political and procedural elements involved in organising a referendum or consultation by which the citizens of Catalonia can decide their political future. The document is structured in a series of analytical sections and some final conclusions.
First of all, it studies the support for holding the consultation, on the basis of figures provided by opinion polls and of the electoral support obtained in the last elections to the Parliament of Catalonia by parties for and against convening the consultation. More specifically, and on the basis of the votes obtained by each party, it analyses the regional distribution, presenting a series of maps showing how support for the consultation is distributed over Catalan municipalities. Finally, it combines the information from opinion polls with elections results, through a statistical estimate, so as to find out the scale of support for the right to decide and its regional distribution by municipalities. The study shows widespread support from the Catalan population for holding the consultation (Section 2).
Next, it illustrates the main arguments legitimating the implementation of this type of consultation, those of a historical nature as well as those pertaining to liberal democracies (democratic, representative, civic and participative nature of the consultation; „liberal“ protection of individual and collective rights of citizens; egalitarian and inclusive approach; coherence with the principles of plurinational federalism, advanced cosmopolitan concept of democracy; peaceful and functional nature as way out of the current political impasse; coherence with Catalan political culture; international visibility of Catalonia). The analysis also includes the perspective of the practices of direct democracy to be seen in comparative politics today (Section 3).
Thirdly, it explains the juridical strategies the Government of Generalitat of Catalonia would have to use to give effect to a legal consultation via the channels foreseen in international law. It asks the specific question of how many procedures we would have to try and apply and which ones and in what order it would have to be done. The Government of the Generalitat already has an extensive report drawn up by the Institut d’Estudis Autonòmics (IEA, Institute of Autonomic Studies), which identifies up to five procedures in internal law under which a consultation could be legally convened so that the citizens of Catalonia can express their opinion regarding their collective political future. The Advisory Council for the National Transition adopts the guidelines of this report and to avoid repetition this document will only analyse those issues surrounding the consultation not looked at in the IEA’s report (Section 4).
Fourthly, in prevision of Spanish state opposition to holding the consultation via the channels available under internal law, the report analyses whether international and European law establishes a specific legal procedure for convening the consultation or enshrines some right or principle that can be brought before a court of law or that etablishessome kind of active juridical situation in favour of the Generalitat or, finally, whether it enshrines some right or principle from which we can conclude that holding the consultation via alternative channels and putting the results into effect, including the constitution of an independent state, does not constitute an international illegallity with the consequences arising from this fact (Section 5).
Fifth, the report looks at the various elements that shape popular consultations as well as the criteria that must preside the institutional campaign by the Generalitat and stakeholders with a legitimate part to play in the consultation. More specifically, it analyses the criteria to be applied in forumulating the question from the threeforld perspective of clarity and neutrality, the formulation of one or several questions, and the reference or not to he need to put the results of the consultation into effect through legal channels currently in force. It also studies the criteria that should be taken into account in setting the date for the consultation, and the advantages or otherwise of establishing a minimum quorum for participation or qualified majorities for considering the results of a consultation as valid. Finally, in the case of non-referendum consultations, it considers the political and technical problems involved in establishing an electoral roll, especially in a scenario of non-collaboration by the Spanish state of by certain local bodies, and the problems surrounding the logistics and the material means for holding the vote. Special attention is given to election administration and, more specifically, to the possibility of establishing an Electoral syndicate of Catalonia, and also to the regulation of institutional and informative campaigns for the consultation (Section 6).
Sixth, it lays out the legal and political consquences that could arise when it comes to implementing the results of the consultation, especially in the case of a result in favour of an independent state, from the point of view both of what actions the Generalitat would have to take and what actions would be down to the Spanish state. The answer to this last question depends on the extent to which the results of the consultation are considered legally and politically binding. Whatever the case, if the spanish state ist ooposed to implementing the results or if it had previously opposed the possibiliy of holding a legal consultation, the Generalitat would have the chance of looking for alternative channels for finding out the wish of the citizens of Catalonia as regards their collective political future and for putting the results into effect (Section 7).
Seventh, the report shows various alternative procedures or scenarios the Generalitat could use for sounding out the feelings of the citizens of Catalonia as regards their collective political future or for expressing their wish to form an independent state. In particular, it considers the possibility of holding „extralegal“ consultations under the auspices of the public authorities or by private organisations with the indirect support of the public authorities; the convening of plebiscite elections; a unilateral declaration of independence, which could be used after plebiscite elections or as a stance by the Parliament to be ratified subsequently through consultation; or European or international mediation (Section 8).
Finally, the last section analyses the hypothetical legal instruments the Spanish state might try to use to oppose the steps taken by the Generalitat towards convening a consultation or putting the results into effect (Section 9).
The document ends with the summary and the main conclusions of the report (Section 10).