Spain

Catalan statute is constitutional with exceptions, top court rules

After four years of debate and speculation, the Constitutional Court ruled on Monday that Catalonia can keep most of its self-governing statute, which was approved in a referendum by voters in 2006.

In a six-to-four vote, the court turned down the Popular Party's challenge that the statute was almost entirely unconstitutional. The court, however, said that 14 clauses in the charter had to go because they were partially or totally unconstitutional. One of these is reportedly the preamble, which describes Catalonia as "a nation." A written ruling will be made public in the coming days.

The court, which had been bitterly divided over the case, agreed to vote on the final decision after chief judge María Emilia Casas, who said some 14 clauses are unconstitutional, modified her final ruling to get other judges to agree to vote on a decision. This was the seventh attempt by the judges to agree on a ruling.

The court is expected to include in its ruling the concept of the Spanish nation's "indivisible unity." The CiU Catalan nationalist bloc, which had said that it would only accept a ruling that left the entire statute intact, will meet today to discuss the court's decision, which it said yesterday was "serious." Òmnium Cultural, a group which defends Catalan rights, said it will hold a protest march on July 10 under the slogan: "We are one nation."

(Published by El País – June 29, 2010)

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