How to secure the vote without Spain’s permission

Law for legal transitoriness to provide legal framework

Núria Orriols
2 min
Carles Viver Pi-Sunyer, president de l’Institut d’Estudis de l’Autogovern, és el principal assessor del president per a la desconnexió.

BarcelonaThe technical viability of a referendum without permission from the State is one of the tasks that has occupied the government in recent weeks. Finding legal grounds for a binding vote on independence, the question of the census, and safeguarding civil servants are the stumbling blocks that the bodies working on developing Catalan self-government —led by Josep Maria Reniu, Victor Colell, and Carles Viver Pi-Sunyer— have been working on.

According to ARA sources, there are several reports that analyze alternative ways to overcome these hurdles. However, one thing is clear: if Spain won’t agree to a referendum, and in the end this is the chosen path, it will be called by invoking a new Catalan legal system rather than the current Spanish law, unlike the non-binding consultation on independence of November 9 2014. On this point the key lies with the law on legal transitoriness (or the legal system) that is currently being drafted in Parliament.

Parliamentary sources indicate that there is a "good understanding" between the CUP and Junts pel Sí (the two pro-independence groups) regarding the drafting of the law of transitoriness, but that for the moment they have only begun to "structure" the regulations in a generic way. "If the majority of Parliament understands that it (the process) must end in a referendum, the law must provide for this", stated one of the sources consulted as to whether to include the voting regulation in this law. One of the ways studied --but not agreed upon yet-- is for the law to include a declaration of sovereignty, the rules for the calling of a referendum, and a set of transitional regulations, so as not to make great leaps into the unknown (some Spanish legislation will continue to apply just after independence). Indeed, yesterday Catalan Justice Minister Carles Mundó highlighted the referendum and the transitoriness law in a lunch organized by grassroots group Sovereignty and Justice. He assured that if they end up opting for a referendum, despite not being authorized by Spain, it will have to be covered under Catalan law. "Under Spanish law, a referendum is illegal", he said.

The head of Justice chose a mountain metaphor and affirmed that Catalonia is in "the last stretch" of the process of reaching the summit, but it must calibrate the technical conditions well so as not to end up "frozen along the way".

Overcoming the challenges of 9-N

According to sources familiar with the work of the government, president Puigdemont is considering "various scenarios" and "alternatives", and as the roadmap moves forward, the options will begin to become clear. That is, there is still no specific solution for each obstacle to a referendum, but there are several ways out for each case. One of the people consulted, for example, talked of using the existing census from the last elections, or creating a new one using data that the government already has. In any case, before reaching this final stage of the process, it will be necessary to first get through the general policy debate, pass the budget for 2017, and possibly a third Spanish election that could strain the independence process once again.