Spanish Constitutional amendment aimed against Catalonia’s self-government

Spanish parties PP and PSOE have agreed, practically overnight and in secrecy, to do what they had fiercely opposed for 30 years every time anyone suggested: to amend the Spanish Constitution.

The current Spanish Constitution was written after 40 years of a fascist dictatorship and with the army overlooking the whole process it contains many totalitarian articles (like article 8, which allows military action against secession attempts) and intentionally overlooks the national diversity inside the Spanish state.

Every time is was suggested that it should be updated to acknowledge the different nations inside the Spanish State, the right of self determination, or the reorganization of the Spain as a federal state the Spanish replied that their Constitution is sacred and can’t be changed. To illustrate this, Spanish parties call themselves “Constitutionalists” instead of simply Spanish nationalists.

But now the PP and PSOE have decided to make a change to it to limit the public deficit. They have done this without a previous debate, leaving aside all other parties in the Spanish Parliament (the Catalan and Basque ones, for instance) and without the mandatory referendum with the excuse that they need to do it urgently to inspire confidence to the markets following France and Germany’s advice.

The problem with this amendment is the way it will limit the Catalan Government. In countries like Germany where similar laws exist there is also a fiscal deficit limitation, which limits also the transfer of wealth from richer to poorer areas. Not so in Spain, effectively limiting the indebtment that Catalonia can take but not limiting consequently its fiscal deficit with other Autonomous Communities (which is now a whopping 10%) therefore adding an unsustainable pressure to Catalan finances. The Generalitat already has to take care with the most expensive public services of the state like healthcare, education or police. PP and PSOE have of course ignored CiU’s requests to include a clause to limit the fiscal deficit. To this, even CiU, still shocked, has warned of a clash of unforeseeable consequences. I am quite skeptical.

So this reform has proven a few points:

  1. that the Spanish Constitution can be modified, it is not as sacred as the Spanish had made us believe
  2. in any changes to the Spanish Constitution the Spanish nationalists will use their majority to impose their decision over the other nations in the state
  3. any changes will be aimed at weakening Catalan self government
  4. skipping the referendum and blatantly ignoring the society is the latest display lack of democratic culture in Spain

By refusing to debate this reform and by pushing it without the support of the other parties PP and PSOE have broken whatever was left of the Spanish Constitutional “deal” therefore morally freeing Catalan parties, like CiU, which had originally agreed to it, to act outside of it. Catalonia must recover its Constitution.

Picture by Gustavo Bravo

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