The constitutional crisis in Spain may be coming to a head quickly according to a leaked document on a “Secret Law for Catalonia Independence” as reported by El Pais.
Spain’s Attorney General José Manuel Maza is set to examine the legality of a plan outlined by the regional government of Catalonia to activate immediate secession from Spain if the central government in Madrid stops it from holding a vote on independence – something it is planning on doing in September or October of this year.
The independence mechanism is detailed in a secret draft version of legislation being prepared by the Generalitat, the Catalan regional government, and to which EL PAÍS has had access.
The document aims to work as a provisional Catalan Constitution that, according to the text, would be in place during the two-month period that the parliament would have to begin a process that would culminate in the “parliamentary republic” of Catalonia.
“If the Spanish state effectively impedes the holding of a referendum, this law will enter into effect in a complete and immediate manner when the [regional] parliament has verified such an impediment,” the draft legislation reads.
The document has a section that covers the referendum itself and features the question that would be asked of voters: “Do you want Catalonia to be a state that is independent from Spain?” The intention in the text is that this part of the legislation would come into effect first in order to be able to hold the referendum, and indicates that a majority of votes in favor, no matter how slim, and with no minimum participation level, would ratify the decision and mean that it was binding.
The text makes a number of references to itself as being a “founding law,” and goes into exhaustive details – albeit with many legal loopholes and unknowns – about the breakaway: i.e. who would be a Catalan citizen, how it would be possible to obtain nationality, which Spanish laws would remain in force and which would not, what would happen to government workers currently employed by the state, among other details.
The authors of the text ignore legal and material elements that have enormous importance and complexity, such as the whether this new republic would continue to form part of Europe, or whether social benefits or pensions would be guaranteed, or whether all taxation – and fines for non-payment – would be the responsibility of the regional government.
Under the reasoning of the authors of the text, none of these issues would infringe the law because, as the second article reads, “national sovereignty resides with the people of Catalonia, from whom all powers of the State emanate.”
The Catalonia independence threat is smack on top of a Spanish government crisis in which Mariano Rajoy has threatened to dissolve parliament and call snap elections if his budget does not pass.