The allocation of €5.8 million included in the budget for 2017 to carry out the pro-independence referendum which the Government committed to call next September has passed its first hurdle.The Council for Statutory Guarantees, the body responsible for checking whether the Catalan Government’s regulations comply with the Catalan Statute of Autonomy and the Spanish Constitution, analysed the draft at the request of Spanish Unionist ‘Ciutadans’, the Catalan People’s Party (PPC) and the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) and approved the allocation. However, the 31st additional provision of the draft, which establishes that the Government is responsible for guaranteeing this allocation, has been considered unconstitutional by the Council.According to the body, calling a referendum is not an attributed competence of the Government and therefore this authorisation can’t be foreseen in the budget. Since it is an advisory body, the resolution of the Council for Statutory Guaranteesis not binding but has already implied a delay in the passing of the bill,which was due to be put to vote last February.
The budget for 2017 also establishes €5 million for electoral processes and €0.8 million for participation, which has been approved by the Council. The resolution considered them “technically correct and corresponding from a political perspective”. Moreover, the budget also anticipates the inevitable suspension of the referendum allocation by the Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) and includes hidden allocations so that it could be carried out anyway. Contrary to what happened in 2014, when the budget also allocated €6 million within the Public Administrations department to guarantee the celebration of the 9-N symbolic vote on independence, this time the allocation is an explicit competence of the Catalan Ministry for Economy and Tax Office.
Calling a referendum is not an attributed competence of the Government
On the other hand, the Council for Statutory Guarantees stated that the “constitutional jurisprudence doesn’t recognise the Government’s power to regulate nor to call a referendum over Catalonia’s political future”. Therefore, the budget “can’t foresee an authorisation for a public expenditure aimed at pursuing a non-attributed competence”.
The resolution added that the only competence of the Government in this matter is to ask the Spanish Government for the competence to call a referendum.
Puigdemont gurantees the referendum will be carried out
“The government will call the referendum, since the allocation has been perfectly accepted” he said and insisted that “the will of vast majority of Catalans is to vote”.
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