‘Constituïm’, a group made up of several professionals from different fields which has put together previous attempts at writing a Catalan Constitution, delivered this Wednesday its first proposal of the text to the Parliament’s President, Carme Forcadell. The draft foresees Catalonia as “a citizen and participative republic”, based on a presidential system, without an army but with an “Agency for Security and Defence” which would protect citizens and control the borders. It also plans to create an “Institute for Peace and Truce” which could focus on international help and humanitarian actions. This draft of the Catalan Constitution establishes Catalan and Aranese, a language which is spoken in the northern region of Val d’Aran in the Catalan Pyrenees, as the only official languages of the republic. Spanish would have a “special status” which would have to be regulated by a law. In order to study the constitutive process, ‘Constituïm’ will now send the text to the Committee, the different political groups in the Parliament and to civil society associations such as the National Assembly of Catalonia (ANC), the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI) and the association promoting Catalan culture, Òmnium Cultural.
“Catalonia is hereby established as a State that is free, sovereign, democratic, social, ecological and respectful of rights. The political and legal form of the organisation of the State is a citizen and participative republic”. Thus begins the definition of Catalonia in the proposed constitution presented this Wednesday by ‘Constituïm’. The Constitution furthermore adopts the Senyera, the official red and white striped flag of Catalonia, as its flag, ‘El Segadors’ as its national anthem, Catalan and Aranese as its official languages, and instates Barcelona as its only capital.
Under these initial requirements, the proposal carries up to 49 articles that would form the Catalan Constitution, which establishes the particularities of the independent Catalonia that these 17 independent jurists imagine. The text provides, as the spokesmanof ‘Constituïm’ Jordi Domingo explains, a presidential system in the style of the US or France. “The Constitution states that Catalonia will have a president to be elected by everyone in a single constituency. The people, through a free and direct election with a single constituency, could vote for a president, as in the USA, saving itself from, among other things, this precariousness of the government”, he stated. The text, in fact, states that this president would then select the ministers along with the “President” that would make up his government. Parliament, however, would be chosen in other elections, along with the Catalan Auditor and the Ombudsman.
The “special” status of Spanish
One of the elements that has already caused the most controversy is the unique official status granted to Catalan and Aranese. The proposal grants official status to Catalonia’s own languages and establishes that Spanish should have a “special status” that a law should regulate. “For cultural and historical reasons Spanish deserves special treatment”, affirmed Domingo, who also points out that those citizens who have come to Catalonia after their education or before the “linguistic normalisation” should be able “to continue addressing the administration in Spanish”. The rest, however, should “assume that Catalan is the official language”. However, it clarifies that it will neither persecute Spanish nor forbid its use in any social or public sphere.
Regarding the possibility of having an army, the text does not provide for this possibility because “armies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, regardless of how advanced they may be, are unnecessary”, according to Domingo. This is why the suggested proposal to create a “National Agency for Security and Defence” would be responsible for protecting citizens, borders, infrastructure and more global elements. “Having nothing to do, however, with a conventional army” specified Domingo. In addition, the Institute of Peace and Truce would be a body that would act in international “humanitarian efforts and aid in conflict area” interventions.
The spokesman of ‘Constituïm’ affirmed that the text is “open to debate, to change, modify, and crumble if necessary” and denied that it is an “absolutely closed” proposal. For this reason, he asked Forcadell to pass the text along to the Parliamentary Commission of the Constitutive Process, and they will then forward the text to political groups, pro-independence institutions, such as those responsible for the massive demonstrations on Catalonia’s National Day, and various Catalan figures.
‘Constituïm’ the first to present a draft Catalan Constitution
‘Constituïm’ (‘Let’s constitute’) gathers together judges, economists, engineers and other professionals from different fields who have worked to hand over the project of a Catalan Constitution. The group has analysed previous drafts, such as that presented by Catalan judge Santiago Vidal, but also more than 3,000 citizen proposals.
The platform defines itself as an organisation which emerged from civil society and, therefore, is willing to collaborate with as many sectors of society as possible, in order to enhance the constitutive process and make it as representative as possible.