Zaragoza, Spain | Aragon also debates on the political future of Catalonia
In an event organized by DIPLOCAT which took place this afternoon at the Law Faculty of the University of Zaragoza
The Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (DIPLOCAT) continues to organize academic debates about the right to decide of Catalonia. After Bilbao, Madrid and Seville, today a seminar was held in the Aula Magna of the Faculty of Law of the University of Zaragoza, entitled "The Right to Decide: ¿euphemism or strong idea?". The event, attended by a large audience, was organized by DIPLOCT and the University of Zaragoza, with co-operation from the in collaboration with the Manuel Giménez Abad Foundation for Parliamentary and Autonomous Rights Studies.
The welcome ceremony was given by Eva Sàenz, Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Zaragoza; José Tudela, Secretary General of the Manuel Giménez Abad Foundation; and Elisabet Moragas, Senior Project Manager of DIPLOCAT, who welcomed the participants and stressed the importance of dialogue and debate to allow a political solution to the Catalan case.
Roundtable: The right to decide: euphemism or strong idea?
Then academics from different universities debated in form of a round table, moderated by Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Zaragoza, Carlos Garrido. Participated Antonio Arroyo, Professor of Constitutional Law at the Autonomous University of Madrid; Ramón Cotarelo, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Public Administration at UNED; Teresa Freixes, Professor of Constitutional Law at the Autonomous University of Barcelona; and Josep Maria Vilajosana, Professor of Philosophy of Law and Dean of the Faculty of Law of the Pompeu Fabra University.
Referring to the title of the conference, Professor Antonio Arroyo argued that the right to decide as a euphemism for the right to self-determination, a principle conceived by the process of decolonisation not recognized by any law within our scope of application. Arroyo denounced that the right to decide concept was used to rally support for the separatist cause, even though it is an undemocratic and unconstitutional approach because it contradicts the essence of the Constitution itself and of the state. While recognizing the existence of a territorial integration problem of the State, Arroyo believes that a referendum on secession only creates division and is in favour of a constitutional reform along federal lines, which allows for the integration of all identities.
Professor Ramón Cotarelo in turn recalled numerous precedents of secession processes which were not recognized by any law and which culminated just because of the support of the majority of the population. In this respect, he agrees that the right to decide is a euphemism for the right to self-determination, but reminds that there is no consensus on the doctrine of the definition of a colony and is in favour of a solution such as the one agreed by the Supreme Court of Canada to respond to the demand of 80% of Catalans in favour of a referendum on the independence of Catalonia.
According to Professor Teresa Freixes, the independentist majority in the Parliament of Catalonia represents only a third of the census of Catalonia and she denied the existence of objective data confirming that 80% of Catalan citizens want a referendum. In this sense, she denounced the strategy pretending to make use of facts in order to generate law and defended the actions of the Constitutional Court to prevent it. Finally, she gave the example of the independence of Algeria to reiterate that the independence of Catalonia would lead to the exclusion of Catalonia from the European Union.
As last speaker, Professor Josep Maria Vilajosana considered that the right to self-determination is a right of peoples, while the right to decide is an individual right, recognised by the democratic principles on which the Spanish Constitution is based. Vilajosana was of the opinion that the Constitutional Court should apply an evolutionary interpretation to the Constitution, as happened with the case of gay marriage, to adapt it to demands of today’s society, which would permit to evoke the right to decide in practical terms.
The conference concluded with a public debate where questions were raised such as the size of the states to be viable in the globalization era, the consequences of unilateral secession, the position of Catalonia as a minority nation within the State, or if the position of the State on the independence of Catalonia is related to legal question or to questions of interests.
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The University of Zaragoza is a university located in Zaragoza, in the Aragon region of Spain. Founded in 1542, it is one of the oldest universities in Spain, with a history dating back to the Roman period. The university has over 40,000 students in its 22 faculties. The university is the only public university in the region. Its activity is spread along the three provinces of Aragon, with teaching campuses and research centres in Huesca, Teruel and Zaragoza.
The Faculty of Law, with more than four centuries of history, had over 14.000 students of law during the school year 2014-2015.
Last updated: 23 May 2016