JxSí, CUP considering two-step disconnection

Only the part of transition law needed to hold referendum would take effect at first

A two-step disconnection. This is one of the scenarios that Parliament is working on to hold a referendum and have it take effect in case the independence option wins a majority. What does this mean? According to what ARA has learned, one of the options that is on the table is that the law for legal transition to be approved in the summer will take effect in two separate stages. The initial phase will only include those elements that would allow a referendum to be held without permission from Spain. That is, it would give the Generalitat the sovereignty necessary to carry out a referendum. The rest would regulate the conversion from a Spanish region into an independent country after the referendum, following a Yes victory. The entire text, however, would be approved in a single vote in Parliament. According to parliamentary sources, the aim is to find a sovereign space outside of Spanish legal jurisdiction just to hold a referendum. The legal maneuvering to make this formula work, on paper, would be to introduce an additional provision into the law stating that the section declaring independence would only take effect in case of a majority vote for independence in a referendum.

In this way, independence supporters are seeking a clash of legitimacies with the Spanish government to allow for a vote, a demand that is widely supported in Parliament with Junts pel Sí and the CUP, and also with Catalunya Sí que es Pot, as long as the consultation is agreed upon. Support for a referendum has a broader social majority behind it, according to surveys, than independence itself (with 48% of votes in the September 27 elections). The goal is to make it clear that it is not a referendum designed to ratify independence, only a "decision-making" referendum in which the supporters of a "no" vote would have a final opportunity to halt the drive towards becoming an independent country, according to a source familiar with the strategy.

In addition, before going to the polls all Catalan citizens would have in their hands the details of how the transition to a new state would happen, as the contents of the entire law will be made public: it will regulate nationality, subrogation of contracts, transfer of administrative bodies from Spain to the Generalitat, and the succession of legislation. It would include, however, a "minimum" of regulations, according to a legal source, so as not to influence a later constituent process to create a new Constitution.

Although this is the general outline, parliamentary sources made clear that the draft is not yet finalized and that this is one of the possibilities on the table. One of the debates is over which sovereign attributes to give to the Generalitat in order to carry out the referendum and which to leave for later.

At the very least, according to legal sources, the first phase would have to provide the Generalitat with the sovereignty to call a referendum, a regulation governing procedures and the establishment of an electoral roll, as well as an electoral commission akin to an Electoral Board in standard elections. The key factor is whether the Parliament will withstand the pressure from Madrid from autonomous region to independence once the regulation is challenged and suspended by the Constitutional Court (TC).

December 31, deadline for readying the law

Whatever the fine print in the law of legal jurisdiction is, Junts pel Sí and the CUP are working with a deadline: December 31, the date set forth in the resolution on the referendum in the general political debate. Even if the text is finalized by the end of the year, this does not mean that it would be ready to be sent to the Catalan chamber. The joint commission is a parliamentary tool that allows for the drafting of a law between two or more groups, later to be presented in Parliament as a bill. The groups fear that the proposition would be immediately appealed before the Constitutional Court as soon as it is submitted to the chamber’s registry.

Indeed, the key point in the strategy will be timing. One of the options gaining traction is to shorten the time between approval of the law and the calling of a referendum as much as possible, because this will be a period in which tensions over legal jurisdiction will be at their highest. Carles Mundó, the Catalan Justice Minister, said recently in an interview on Catalunya Ràdio that it would be a "bad decision" to wait too long between the approval of the transition law and the referendum.

They are also working to comply with recommendations of the Venice Commission (a body of the European Council), which advise to avoid setting a minimum turnout (so as not to incentivize a boycott) and to regulate the referendum using laws which have been in place for one year. The clash is expected between the spring and fall of 2017.

Parliament’s Executive Committee to process budget despite opposition from the PSC and PP

The budget will follow its course in Parliament. The Executive Committee of the chamber yesterday denied a request for reconsideration filed by the PSC and PP to not process the government´s budget for 2017 due to the additional provision that refers to a referendum and for which 5.8 million euros are earmarked under electoral processes.

The Executive Committee members from Junts pel Sí and Catalunya Sí que es Pot -- who hold a majority-- believe that the item that refers to a referendum is not in violation of any law nor any directive issued by the Constitutional Court. The CUP agrees, despite choosing not to make any public statements after the meetings of the committee and the Spokespersons’ Group. Meanwhile, Ciutadans, the PSC, and the PP stated that the budget as presented is in violation of Constitutional Court rulings and, as such, should not be processed. Their votes in the Executive Committee, however, are not enough to block those of pro-independence forces, with a JxSí majority.

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