The Declaration on the Sovereignty and right to decide of the people of Catalonia

Parliament of Catalonia - 23/1/2013

The Declaration on the Sovereignty and right to decide of the people of Catalonia was a resolution passed by the Parliament of Catalonia on January 23rd 2013 by 85 votes in favour, 41 against and two against. The Spanish Constitutional Court suspended the Declaration but the Mesa del Parlament ruled that it would remain in force because "a political will cannot be suspended".


According to the text of the Declaration "In agreement with the democratically expressed will of the majority of the people of Catalonia, the Parliament of Catalonia agrees to begin a process to make effective the exercise of the right to decide so that the citizens of Catalonia can decide their collective political future." 

"D'acord amb la voluntat majoritària expressada democràticament per part del poble de Catalunya, el Parlament de Catalunya acorda iniciar el procés per fer efectiu l'exercici del dret a decidir per tal que els ciutadans i les ciutadanes de Catalunya puguin decidir el seu futur polític col•lectiu."

It also states that "the people of Catalonia have, for reasons of democratic legitimacy, the character of a sovereign political and legal subject" - "el poble de Catalunya té, per raons de legitimitat democràtica, caràcter de subjecte polític i jurídic sobirà".

The Vote

The parties Convergència i Unió (50 Yes), Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (21 Yes), Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds-Esquerra Unida i Alternativa (13 Yes) all voted in favour of the Declaration whilst Partit Popular de Catalunya (19 NO) and Ciutadans - Partit de la Ciutadania (9 NO) voted against. Candidatura d'Unitat Popular-Alternativa d'Esquerres gave a 'critical' Yes with one vote in favour and two abstentions. Five out of 20 of the Partit dels Socialistes de Catalunya (Joan Ignasi Elena, Rocío Martínez-Sampere, Marina Geli, Àngel Ros and Núria Ventura) despite being present in the chamber broke the party whip and refused to vote against. The following day they were disciplined but not expelled from the party.

Over the next few days the main Catalan public institutions, including the Ajuntament de Barcelona and the Diputacions of Barcelona and Lleida, joined in affirming the Declaration.

Constitutional Court Ruling

The Spanish government appealed against the Declaration and on May 8th 2012 the Constitutional Court of Spain suspended the declaration and almost a year later on March 25th 2014, ruled unconstitutional and null the point that states that "the people of Catalonia have, for reasons of democratic legitimacy, the character of a sovereign political and legal subject".

According to the Constitutional Court "only the Spanish people is exclusively and indivisibly sovereign. No fraction of this people can be considered sovereign."

The Mesa del Parlament de Catalunya declared that the Declaration would remain in force because "a political will cannot be suspended". Artur Mas stated that he would continue the journey towards a referendum for self-determination on Catalonia.

Full Text of the Declaration in English


The people of Catalonia, during the course of their history, have democratically demonstrated their collective desire to govern themselves, with the objective to advance their development, their well being, and provide equal opportunity to all citizens, while reinforcing their culture and collective identity.

Self-government for Catalonia is founded on the historic rights of the Catalan people, in their ancient institutions, and in Catalan legal tradition. Catalan parliamentarism has its roots in the Middle Ages in the assemblies of Peace and Truce and the Count’s Court.

In the 14th century the Diputació General, or as it was commonly known the Generalitat, was created, and went on acquiring great levels of autonomy until it became, in the 16th and 17th centuries, the government of the Principality of Catalonia. With the fall of Barcelona in 1714, during the War of Spanish Succession, Philip V with the Decree of the Nova Planta abolished Catalan rights and the institutions of self-government.

This historic experience has been shared with several other territories, a fact that has linked them a common linguistic, cultural, social and economic background, with the intent to reinforce and promote their mutual recognition.

Throughout the 20th century the desire for self-government has been a constant for Catalans. The establishment of the Catalan Mancomunitat in 1914 was a first step in the recovery of self-government, but was abolished under the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. In 1931, with the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic, a Catalan government was established with the name the Generalitat of Catalonia and endowed with a Statute of Autonomy.

The Generalitat was again abolished in 1939 by General Franco, who established a dictatorship that lasted until 1975. The dictatorship was actively resisted by the Catalan public and the Government of Catalonia. One of the milestones in the fight for liberty was the establishment in 1971 of the Assembly of Catalonia, before the reestablishment of the Generalitat, a provisional basis, until the return of its president from exile in 1977. During the transition to democracy, and within the context of the new system of autonomous regions as defined by the 1978 Spanish Constitution, Catalans approved through a 1979 referendum the Catalan Statute of Autonomy, and in 1980 the first elections for the Parliament of Catalonia were held.

During the last few years, with the strengthening of democracy, a majority of Catalan political and social forces have pushed for a transformation of judicial and political structures. The most recent effort, was the process to reform the Catalan Statute of Autonomy initiated by Parliament In 2005. The difficulties and obstacles raised by the institutions of the Spanish State, specially the Supreme Court’s sentence 31/2010, was a radical negation of the democratic evolution of the collective will of the Catalan public, and created the basis for a regression in self-government, which today clearly expresses itself in various aspects including political, jurisdictional, financial, social, cultural and linguistic.

The Catalan public has, using various means, expressed its collective will to overcome the obstacles placed by the Spanish State. The massive demonstrations on the 10th of July, 2010, under the slogan 'We Are a Nation', and on 11th of September, 2012, under the slogan 'Catalonia, a New European State', are expressions against the rejections of the Catalan public’s decisions.

With the date 27th of September, 2012, and in accordance with Resolution 742/IX, the Parliament of Catalonia establishes the need for the people of Catalonia to freely and democratically determine their collective future by means of a referendum. This will was was clearly and decisively expressed by the results of the last elections for the Parliament of Catalonia held on the 25th November, 2012.

To carry out this process, the Parliament of Catalonia, sitting in the first session of the Xth Legislature, and in accordance with the will of the citizens of Catalonia that was democratically expressed during the last elections, sets down the following:

Declaration of sovereignty and of the right to decide of the Catalan nation

In accordance with the democratically expressed will of the majority of the Catalan public, the Parliament of Catalonia initiates a process to bring to promote the right of the citizens of Catalonia to collectively decide their political future, in accordance with the following principles:

Sovereignty. The Catalan public has, by reason of democratic legitimacy, political and legal sovereignty.

Democratic Legitimacy. The process of exercising the right to decide will be scrupulously democratic, especially by guaranteeing a variety of options and which will all be respected, and, through deliberation and dialog within Catalan society. The objective will be that the resulting pronouncement be the expression of the majority of the popular will, which will be the fundamental guarantor of the right to decide.

Transparency. All the necessary tools will be enabled so that the whole of the population and all of Catalan society have all of the information and knowledge regarding the right to decide process, and to promote their participation in the process.

Dialogue. Catalonia will engage in dialogue and negotiations with the Spanish State, European institutions and with international organizations.

Social Cohesion. The social and territorial cohesion of Catalonia will be guaranteed, and so will the desire, as expressed on numerous occasions by Catalan society, to maintain a unified nation.

Europeanism. The founding principles of the European Union will be defended and promoted, especially the fundamental rights of its citizens, democracy, the commitment to the welfare state, solidarity with the different nations of Europe, and to economic, social and cultural progress.

Legality. All existing legal frameworks will be utilised to strengthen democracy and to exercise the right to decide.
The principal role of Parliament. The Parliament of Catalonia, as the institution that represents the people of Catalonia, has a leading role in this process and, therefore, it will be necessary to decide and specify the mechanisms and the dynamics of the process which will guarantee this principle.

Participation. The Parliament of Catalonia and the Government of the Generalitat must be active participants at the local level, in the maximum number of political forces, in economic and social elements, in the cultural and civic organisations of our country, and to specify the mechanisms that will guaranty this principle.

The Parliament of Catalonia encourages all citizens to take an active role in the democratic process for the right to decide of the Catalan people.

Parliament of Catalonia, 23 January, 2013

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