Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Generalitat of Catalonia


The Generalitat of Catalonia stems from the medieval institution which ruled, in the name of the King of the Crown of Aragon, some aspects of the administration of the Principality of Catalonia. The first Catalan constitution is that of the Corts of Barcelona from 1283.

The Generalitat of Catalonia, outside
Another medieval precedent- the Diputació del General de Catalunya (Commission of Deputies) – which the 1931 legislators felt was appropriate for invoking as a legitimising base for contemporary self-government.


Old emblem of the Generalitat
Catalonia’s political past as a territorially differentiated community having its own representative and autonomous institutions, with respect to the sovereign power of the combined Aragonese monarchies (1283-1516) and Castilian monarchies (1516-1808) and of the Spanish constitutional state (since 1812), can be divided into four stages, separated by three great ruptures in the legal/public order.






The Generalitat of Catalonia, inside

First abolition

Nueva Planta Drecree
Catalan institutions which depended on the Generalitat were abolished in what is currently known in Catalonia as Northern Catalonia, one year after the signature of the Treaty of the Pyrenees in the 17th century, which transferred the territory from Spanish to French sovereignty.

Then, by the early 18th century, as the Nueva Planta decrees were passed in Spain, the institution was abolished in the Spanish territory as well.



First restoration
Bank note from the Generalitat de Catalunya, 1936

The Generalitat of Catalonia was restored in Spanish Catalonia and given its modern political and representative function as the regional government of Catalonia in 1932, during the Second Spanish Republic.


After the right wing coalition won the Spanish elections in 1934, the leftist leaders of the Generalitat of Catalonia rebelled against the Spanish authorities, and was temporarily suspended from 1934 to 1936.


Second abolition

President Companys jailed by Spanish Gov
In 1939, as the Spanish Civil War finished with the defeat of the Republican side, the Generalitat of Catalonia as an institution was abolished and remained so during all the Francoist dictatorship until 1975. The democratic president of the Generalitat at the time, Lluís Companys, was tortured and executed in October 1940 for the crime of 'military rebellion' by the Spanish government


Second restoration

President Josep Tarradellas when he
came back at the balcony of the
Generalitat de Catalonia
The succession of presidents of the Generalitat was maintained in exile from 1939 to 1977, when Josep Tarradellas returned to Catalonia and was recognized as the legitimate president by the Spanish government. Tarradellas, when he returned to Catalonia, made his often quoted remark "Ciutadans de Catalunya: ja sóc aquí" ("Citizens of Catalonia: I am back here, now!"), reassuming the autonomous powers of Catalonia, one of the historic nationalities of present-day Spain.

After this, the powers given to the autonomous Catalan government according to the Spanish Constitution of 1978 were transferred and the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia (Estatut d'Autonomia) was passed after being approved both by referendum in Catalonia and by the Spanish Cortes Generales.



Autonomous system of government

The Generalitat consists of the Executive Council, the President and the Parliament. Some people wrongly apply this name only to the Council as if it were the same as Cabinet only; however, Generalitat de Catalunya is the (autonomous) Catalan system as a whole.

The region has gradually achieved a greater degree of autonomy since 1979. After Navarre and the Basque Country regions, Catalonia has the greatest level of self-government in Spain. The Generalitat holds exclusive and wide jurisdiction in various matters of culture, environment, communications, transportation, commerce, public safety and local governments. In many aspects relating to education, health and justice, the region shares jurisdiction with the Spanish government.

One of the examples of Catalonia's degree of autonomy is its own police force, the Mossos d'Esquadra, which is currently taking over most of the police functions in Catalonia.

With few exceptions, most of the justice system is administered by national judicial institutions. The legal system is uniform throughout the Spanish State, with the exception of so-called civil law. This is administered separately within Catalonia. As another institution stemming from the Generalitat, but independent from it in its check and balance functions, there is a Síndic de Greuges (ombudsman) to address problems that may arise between private citizens or organizations and the Generalitat or local governments.


International presence

As an autonomous community of Spain, Catalonia is not recognized as a sovereign state by any sovereign state. However, as Catalonia has progressively gained a greater degree of self-government in recent years, the Catalan Government has established nearly bilateral relationships with foreign bodies. For the most part, these relationships are with the governments of other powerful subnational entities such as Quebec  or California. In addition, like most Spanish autonomous communities, Catalonia has permanent delegations before international organizations, such as the European Union.

Altogether, Catalonia has well over 40 representative offices worldwide. Most of these offices are located in major world cities like London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Tokyo and others. Each office has specific duties assigned by their ministry or department agency. Generally, the functions of these are the representation of specific interests of the Government of Catalonia, trade and foreign investment, Catalan culture and language support, tourist promotion and international cooperation activities.

There are no specific Catalan political institutions in Northern Catalonia, the French département of Pyrénées-Orientales. However, since September 5, 2003, there has been a House of the Generalitat in Perpignan, which aims to promote the Catalan culture and facilitate exchanges between each side of the Franco–Spanish border.



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