Catalan dailies unite to defend autonomy statute
Twelve newspapers published a joint editorial defending the region’s statute of autonomy that was approved in 2006.Madrid – Twelve Catalan newspapers published Thursday an unprecedented joint editorial defending the legality of the region's statute of autonomy, which is being reviewed by Spain's constitutional court.
The editorial published on the front pages of the papers, including top-selling La Vanguardia and El Periodico, pointed out that the statute, which begins with a preamble defining Catalonia as a "nation", was approved by the Spanish and Catalan parliaments as well as in a regional referendum in 2006.
Spain's main opposition Popular Party asked the court to review the Socialist government-backed statute, which expanded the already significant powers of the wealthy northeastern region's government, and a ruling is expected in the coming months.
Spanish newspaper El Pais reported Sunday that the court was poised to reject the term "nation" used in the statute and alter 40 of its 126 articles, setting the stage for a major political crisis just before Madrid takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union during the first half of 2010.
The statute, which aims to clarify the division of political powers between Spain and Catalonia, has the support of the vast majority of political parties in the region, home to around seven million of Spain's population of just over 46 million people.
They have threatened to stage massive street demonstrations if any changes are made to it.
The editorial published Thursday -- under the title "The Dignity of Catalonia" -- warned that Catalans would be "united" in their response if the court rejects the statute.
"If it is necessary, Catalan solidarity will once again articulate a legitimate response from a responsible society," it said.
"Let us not be mistaken, the real dilemma is whether to advance or to retreat, the acceptance of the democratic maturity of a plural Spain, or the blocking it."
The debate over the stature comes as 160 Catalan towns are preparing to vote in symbolic referendums on 13 December on independence from Spain.
Inhabitants of the small town of Arenys de Munt already voted in September in the first such symbolic referendum in favour of seceding from Spain.
Catalonia, like other Spanish regions, already controls most aspects of government, including health and education.
The statute approved in 2006 gives Catalonia's regional parliament enhanced powers in taxation and judicial matters as well as more control over airports, ports and immigration.
AFP / Expatica