A new decree aimed at preventing a “digital republic” in Catalonia, in the words of acting Spanish president Pedro Sánchez, was passed on Thursday with the votes of the ruling Socialists and two of Spain’s unionist parties. Sánchez announced the new government decree in October as a response to the use of online technology by the independence movement, which he called an “attack” on the state, and vowing that “there will be no independence offline nor online.”
The opposition conservative PP party justified its support for the acting government’s proposed measure, saying that it “wants to stop the Catalan digital republic,” something it described as “urgent and necessary.” While acting economy minister, Nadia Calviño, defended the measure as “the best possible way of guaranteeing the rights of citizens,” the government’s left-wing partners Podemos abstained, with the pro-independence parties voting against the decree.
The Catalan executive said it would refer the decree to the Council for Statutory Guarantees to check whether it conflicted with Catalonia’s powers of self-government, as a precursor to challenging the measure in Spain’s Constitutional Court. Catalonia’s digital policy minister, Jordi Puigneró, compared the “very serious” measure with those in states, such as Turkey, China and Iran, and said withdrawing it would be part of any future talks that might take place with the Spanish authorities.
The government already criticized the measure when it was announced during the election campaign, pledging a “legal and political offensive” against the decree, which at the time Puigneró warned would also “slow digital innovation and progress in Catalonia.” Speaking for the pro-independence parties, ERC’s Montse Bassa called the decree “repressive,” while JxCat’s Laura Borràs said it amounted to “a digital coup” and also compared the acting government’s internet policies with those in “authoritarian states.”