Spain: Constitutional court dents Catalan autonomy

29 June 2010 – Presseurop Presseurop

Five years after theStatute of Catalan Autonomy came into effect, the Spanish constitutional court has now handed down itsruling on a 2006 appeal lodged by the conservative opposition against the reform to bolster regional autonomy. "The Court has approved 95% of the original provisions, without satisfying the Generalitat,” i.e. the Catalan regional government, while declaring 14 of the 223 articles unconstitutional and “interpreting” 27 of them,recaps El País. The Madrid paper calls the ruling a “milestone” for its political ramifications, but also the “most controversial and complicated” decision the court could have taken. The judgment, which defines the concept of the Catalan nation and recalls “the indissoluble unity of Spain”, will provide “plenty of rhetorical ammunition” for this autumn’s local elections. El Mundo, in contrast, deplores the ruling as a "big legal stopgap that weakens Spain”, and forecasts “a spell of severe strain, at best, between Catalonia and the central government”. On the Catalan side,La Vanguardia feels the court "rode roughshod over Catalan aspirations with regard to language, justice and taxes”, particularly by refusing to uphold the “preferential” status of the Catalan language. Still,adds La Vanguardia, the judgment "has salvaged the Catalan reform and kept its core elements intact”, as well as “saving” the "dignity of Catalonia". Andin the opinion of El Periódico de Catalunya, the court has rubber-stamped a “marked-down” statute, even though the law was approved by the Spanish and Catalan parliaments and by a regional referendum in 2006.