On June 15th 1977, the first elections to the Spanish Cortes since 1936, in Catalonia, gave a majority to the political parties that supported the re-establishment of the Generalitat of Catalonia and Catalan autonomy, which had been dissolved by a Spanish law in 1938.
At the Diada of September 11th that year, a million Catalans demonstrated in Barcelona calling for "Freedom, Amnesty and the Statute of Autonomy".
These factors led the government of Adolfo Suárez to re-establish the provisional Generalitat on September 29th 1977 and allow the return of the exiled President, who was officially recognised as such and invited to form a provisional government, which would draft the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia and prepare for the elections of 1980.
On December 5th 1977, the President of the Generalitat, Josep Tarradellas, nominated the government of the provisional Generalitat of Catalonia, which would govern under difficult circumstances for the two or so years
The death of General Franco on November 20th 1975 and the proclamation of Juan Carlos I as King of Spain opened a process of transition from the dictatorship to the restoration of democratic institutions, which would include the restoration of the Generalitat of Catalonia.
On July 3rd 1976, Adolfo Suárez was named president of the government, which would advance ever more decidely towards the much-needed reform of Spain's political institutions. Suárez made contact with the forces of the democratic opposition and managed to get the Law for the Political Reform through the Francoist Cortes, which was approved by referendum on December 15th 1976.
Once the political parties had been legalised, the first legislative elections since 1936 were held on June 15th 1977 for a Cortes which would be responsible for drafting a Constitution, which was later passed by referendum on December 6th 1978. The Constitution of 1978 would proclaim "the indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation", but it would also recognise the right to self-government of the "nationalities and regions". This clause resulted in the generalisation of the competences of the autonomies and changed the context in which the Generalitat of Catalonia would be fully restored.
On May 21st 1976, the contacts between the Spanish democratic opposition and representatives the two main bodies of the Catalan opposition, the Assemblea de Catalunya and the Consell de Forces Polítiques de Catalunya, resulted in the recognition of Catalan demands for the provisional restoration of the Catalan Statute of Autonomy of 1932, known as the Estatut de Núria, and the formation of a government of the Generalitat.
In 1977, in the first democratic elections, the Catalan results gave an overwhelming victory to parties who included these demands in their programmes. There was also a clear left-wing dominance with the two most voted parties being socialist PSC (28.56%) and communist PSUC (18.31%), which went against the general tendency in the rest of Spain.
Immediately, President Suárez recognised the historic legitimacy of President Josep Tarradellas, who was called to Madrid on June 8th 1977 to negotiate the formal restoration of the Generalitat, which didn't initially involve the Assemblea de Parlamentaris and didn't include the restoration of the Statute of 1932.
On the Diada, the National Day of Catalonia, on September 11th 1977 more than a million people demonstrated peacefully in the streets of Barcelona demanding the Statute of Autonomy. A little later, a decree of September 29th recognised President Josep Tarradellas as the only republican authority to return from exile after 40 years and occupy an important post in the emerging democracy. Tarradellas formed a government made up of representatives of all the political parties, apart from Alianza Popular, which had to work with very few competences and very little room for manoeuvre.
The Assemblea de Parlamentaris Catalans named a commission of experts, Comissió dels Vint, which met at Sau to draft the Statute of Autonomy. The text was accepted by the Assemblea de Parlamentaris on December 16th 1978 and was debated and passed by the Congress of Deputies in Madrid on August 13th 1979. It was approved by referendum on October 25th and on December 18th 1979, the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia was made official by King Juan Carlos I.
In the first autonomic elections, held on March 20th 1980 gave rise to a Parliament of Catalonia in which Heribert Barrera was elected President of Parliament. Jordi Pujol, the leader of the most voted coalition, Convergència i Unió, was elected 126th President of the Generalitat of Catalonia.
Tarradellas formed a concentration government comprising twelve consellers or ministers.
For a government without competences, only seven consellers had a specific portfolio, but Tarradellas used the twelve allowed by the Law of the Recovery of the Generalitat to include as many political tendencies as possible.
The functionsof the government of the Provisional Generalitat were:
- To plan the recreation of the Catalan institutions and define how they would work in a very different context from when they had disappeared in 1939
- To create a commission to draft the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia of 1979 and hold a referendum to approve it.
- To call the first democratic elections in Catalonia after the death of Franco using the Statute as the legal framework
President: Josep Tarradellas i Joan (ERC)
Governance: Frederic Rahola i d'Espona (ERC) replaced by Manuel Ortínez i Mur on 19/10/78 and then by Josep Maria Bricall i Masip on 15.12.79
Education and Culture: Pere Pi-Sunyer i Bayo (CDC)
Economy and Finances: Joan Josep Folchi i Bonafonte (UCD) replaced by Eduard Punset i Casals on 15/12/79
Health and Social Welfare: Ramon Espasa i Oliver (PSUC)
Territorial Policy and Public Works: Narcís Serra i Serra (PSC) replaced by Lluís Armet i Coma (PSC) on 22/03/79
Agriculture and Farming: Josep Roig i Magrinyà (ERC)
Work: Joan Codina i Torres (PSC)
Without Portfolio: Antoni Gutierrez Díaz (PSUC), Jordi Pujol i Soley (CDC), Joan Reventós i Carner (PSC), Carles Sentís i Anfruns (UCD), Josep Maria Triginer i Fernández (PSC)