Law and Legitimacy: The denial of the Catalan voice

Jan 07 2014

This article has been written in a key moment where both Scotland and Catalonia are intending to hold independence referenda in 2014. Nevertheless, that is effectively where the similarity ends; there are contrasting legal contexts and differing strategies to  achieve respective independence; each is subject to the constitutional arrangements of the political state in which it is currently incorporated; and the response of the state in each case has been markedly different. This article explores those differences and recent experiences concerning holding a referendum.

In particular the judgement of the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) regarding the secession of Quebec from Canada is discussed and applied to Scotland and Catalonia.  What emerges from the exploration is the contention that for a process (or the absence of process) to be legitimate there must be application of underlying principles (or foundational constitutional principles, as described by the SCC) and that in Spain’s case that application is currently deficient.

This paper follows the debate held on 18 June 2013 in the European Parliament.

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