High Court judge presents draft for a future Catalan Constitution
CATALAN NEWS AGENCY – The aim of the project is to steer debate
Georgina Garriga, Barcelona.- Santiago Vidal, a judge at Barcelona’s Provincial High Court, together with a team of other law experts, has presented a proposal for a future Catalan Constitution in the event of independence. The aim of the project is to steer debate and be as ready as possible if Catalan MPs have to start drafting a Constitution if citizens vote for independence. The presentation took place on Saturday at the Ateneu Barcelonès, one of the most important cultural associations in Barcelona. The draft includes 97 articles according to which Catalonia would become a parliamentary republic with no army. However, this proposal can be changed as a webpage (unanovaconstitucio.cat) has been created through which citizens can table amendments online. Together with this draft, two other constitution projects have been presented: ‘constitucio.cat’ created by a team of Catalan law experts living abroad, and another constitution draft presented by ‘Lawyers for independence’ from the National Assembly of Catalonia (ANC). All the teams will be cooperating and working together from now on. Spain’s Judicial Power Council (CGPJ) has called for the expulsion of Santiago Vidal from the Judiciary for his pro-independence actions.
According to the Catalan Constitution proposal presented by Santiago Vidal, Catalonia would become a parliamentary republic with a President and a Prime Minister. Moreover, there would be a Parliament with just 105 members (the regional chamber currently has 135 MPs) and absolute majorities would not be allowed. In addition, lifelong pensions for people holding the highest offices would not be allowed. Regarding political posts, politicians would not be allowed to govern for more than two terms and their salary would be limited to a maximum of ten times the basic income. Santiago Vidal does not include a Constitutional Court but a Catalan Supreme Court with a constitutional guarantees section. Catalonia would be “a nation for peace” and would not be authorised to have an army. In addition, Catalan would become the official language of the State and Spanish would be co-official.
Santiago Vidal, the leader of this constitutional draft, has also launched an official webpage (unanovaconstitucio.cat) through which people can look at the project and propose amendments and also vote for the contributions they consider to be the best. According to the law experts, it is important to make this process participative. It is expected that in the future, citizens would be able to propose changes in the Constitution’s content if 500,000 signatures were obtained.
Combination of proposals
Apart from Santiago Vidal’s draft, two other proposals were presented at the Ateneu Barcelonès. Oriol Vidal-Aparicio, a Catalan political science professor at Arizona State University (USA), introduced ‘constitucio.cat’ another draft created by a team of Catalan law experts working abroad. Besides this, Sebastià Sardiné, a Catalan lawyer and writer, talked about the ‘Lawyers for independence’, a project for the future Catalan constitution from the civil society organisation National Assembly of Catalonia (ANC), the association behind the massive pro-independence rallies.
According to Santiago Vidal, these two projects are similar to his in many aspects although they are not equal. According to the judge at Barcelona’s Provincial High Court, the document created by ‘Lawyers for independence’ from the ANC would be used in a transition process and would last for a maximum of two years, as it does not take into consideration important questions such as the language issue. Oriol Vidal-Aparicio’s draft has different visions about some subjects such as the territorial structure and the army ban
However, all these organisations will co-operate and work together in the collecting and filtering of the amendments tabled by those who consult the document. These teams will gather once per month to analyse the feedback received through social media and also to discuss the main political and legal issues such as fundamental rights and territorial structure.
Spanish Judicial Power Council reaction
These presentations have not gone unnoticed by the Spanish Judicial Power Council (CGPJ). The CGPJ is considering expelling Santiago Vidal from the Judicial Service, the most severe disciplinary sanction, for having worked on the drafting of the proposal for a future Catalan constitution, even though Vidal has been doing it during his free time and for himself, not at the behest of any political party or organisation. Vidal has defended himself, stressing his right to freedom of expression and his proven and strict obedience and respect to the current Spanish Constitution in the judicial processes in which he intervenes.
Picture: Judge Santiago Vidal (right) announcing the presentation of his proposal for a Catalan Constitution, early last week (by T. Tàpia)