Misc 04/06/2016

Book by law professors knocks argument for unconstitutionality of right to self-determination

"The constitutional fit of the right to self-determination" was written, among others, by two professors of constitutional law at the University of Naples

Aina Canyelles
2 min
La seu del Tribunal Constitucional, a Madrid.

Barcelona"The law can no longer offer much more, so now is the time for politics". This is the last sentence in the book "The constitutional fit of the right to self-determination", which was presented on Wednesday at the Marcial Pons bookstore in Barcelona city. The event was attended by Jorge Cagiao i Conde and Gennaro Ferraiuolo, two of the book's authors and associate professors of constitutional law at the University of Naples.

In their work, the legal experts analyze the issue from a legal, academic, and scientific perspective, and conclude —along with other authors— that the right to self-determination fits within the Spanish Constitution. The book knocks down the notion that a independence referendum is impossible in Spain, as has been frequently cited by the unionist camp.

In addition to Cagiao i Conde and Ferraioulo, the event included appearances by Jordi Muñoz, UB professor and political analyst for ARA, Gemma Ubasart, political scientist from the University of Girona and former Secretary General of Podemos in Catalonia, and Marc Sanjaume, professor at the UOC (Catalonia’s Open University) and the Institute for Studies on Self-governance.

Muñoz stated that "the book is a good exercise for stripping down the debate over the right to self-determination" that is currently "hijacked by Spanish nationalism". "It has turned the 1978 Constitution into a fetish, a kind of national symbol", said Muñoz, who reasoned that with this strategy the Constitution ceases to be a legal text and becomes "a defining foundational element of Spain’s nationalist discourse" and contributes to the fossilization of a dominant interpretation of the Constitution that is imposed without leaving room for an alternative view.

A “regid, vertical" constitutional model

Gemma Ubasart considered the book "essential", and highlighted three elements: that the Spanish constitutional model is rigid and vertical, which makes it difficult to adapt it to the current political debate -- even though it has proven to be, she claimed, extraordinarily flexible when there is an agreement among the elites; that the process has cast doubt on the legitimacy of the constitutional justice system; and finally, echoing one of the ideas of Cagiao i Conde, that it isn't clear whether the constitutional experts who believe that the right to self-determination is impossible are actually supporting the rule of law.

The last speaker was Marc Sanjaume, who emphasized the book's fresh outlook and Canadian-style approach on how to deal with the debate over the presentation of the secession question, as well as the various ways that it presents on how sovereignty can be understood.