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The Spanish government is to take action against the latest pro-independence initiative in Catalonia: Pedro Sánchez's executive will go to the Constitutional Court to appeal the decision of the Catalan Parliament's Bureau to admit for hearing a popular legislative initiative (ILP, in its Catalan acronym), presented by the coalition Solidaritat Catalana, proposing a unilateral declaration of Catalan independence. This Tuesday, the Spanish cabinet plans to approve the order to appeal against the Bureau before the Consitutional Court. If the court admits Sánchez's appeal, the ILP will be paralysed until the court rules on its constitutionality. If the parliamentary Bureau continues with the process subsequently, the MPs supporting such a majority vote in the Bureau could be accused of disobedience, as happened to previous Bureaux chaired by Carme Forcadell (in 2017) and Roger Torrent (in 2019).

The 2024 popular legislative proposal

Popular legislative initiatives are a provision of Spanish and Catalan law which enables legislation to be proposed by citizens, and on February 20th this year, the Bureau of the Catalan Parliament gave the green light to the proposal by the Solidaritat Catalana per la Independencia, declaring that sovereignty is in the hands of the Catalan people, and thus, of Catalan MPs as their elected representatives and that, under this law, they should thus vote on and declare Catalan independence. The bill was approved by the Bureau with the votes of the CUP and Junts, the abstention of ERC and the vote against of the PSC, which has also taken the ILP to the Constitutional Court. The Catalan Socialists allege that "the hearing of the proposal is not appropriate, and any subsequent action related to it should be declared null." The difference between the appeal by the PSC and that to be taken by the Spanish government is the effect. Such an appeal presented by the government automatically entails the suspension of the provision or resolution.

According to Spanish newspaper El Mundo, the text that the cabinet will pass this Tuesday includes an "express invocation of article 161.2 of the Constitution in order to cause the suspension of this agreement." On February 14th, a report by the Catalan Parliament's lawyers in a resolution signed by lawyer Xavier Muro, indicated that the initiative "does not adhere to the strict scope of the powers of the Generalitat" and "does not seek to be founded in the Constitution ", since as the text states "it intends to approve a declaration of independence by establishing a procedure for this purpose." The report added that "it represents a substantial modification of the form of state and government established and defined in the Constitution," and concludes that any regulation "that alters or contradicts the constitutional design requires a prior constitutional reform."


"Negotiate international recognition" and declare independence

The popular legislative initiative known as the Bill for the Declaration of Independence of Catalonia states that the "decision to declare independence belongs to the people of Catalonia as holders of national sovereignty, and to the Parliament of Catalonia as their democratically elected representative". In this regard, the text seeks to empower the Catalan government to "negotiate international recognition" of the declaration of independence and specifies that this will be effective "when the law is passed, when the form and timing of the declaration of independence have been negotiated with the international community and when it is declared by a majority of deputies in a solemn session of the Parliament of Catalonia convened for that purpose".