I refer to the article ‘Spain to suspend Catalonia autonomy after threats of formal independence’ (October 20).

In view of the attention this newspaper gives to the political situation in Spain and for the sake of accuracy, I would like to help readers understand that autonomy is not to be suspended in Catalonia. What the Parliament of Spain will decide in the coming days is about the restoration of constitutional legality and rule of law in the territory of Catalonia, which is being put in jeopardy by the Catalan authorities.

I have taken the liberty to include below the text of article 155 of the Constitution of Spain, which will be activated in defence of legality, on the understanding that autonomy is the rightful situation of Catalonia.

I would like to point out that this constitutional instrument is not, in any way, a measure of state of exception or of suspension of autonomy. Article 155 of the Constitution of Spain has practically the same content of article 37 of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution states:

“1. If an autonomous community does not fulfil the obligations imposed upon it by the Constitution or other laws, or acts in a way seriously prejudicing the general interests of Spain, the government, after lodging a complaint with the president of the autonomous community and failing to receive satisfaction therefore, may, following approval granted by an absolute majority of the Senate, take the measures necessary in order to compel the latter forcibly to meet said obligations or in order to protect the above-mentioned general interests.

“2. With a view to implementing the measures provided in the foregoing clause, the government may issue instructions to all the authorities of the autonomous communities.”

This is an English translation of article 37 of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany:

“(1) If a Land fails to comply with its obligations under this Basic Law or other federal laws, the federal government, with the consent of the Bundesrat, may take the necessary steps to compel the Land to comply with its duties.

“(2) For the purpose of implementing such coercive measures, the federal government or its representative shall have the right to issue instructions to all Länder and their authorities.


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