Generalitat de Catalunya

Not to be confused with the Executive Council of Catalonia, the Generalitat's executive branch which is also referred to as the "Government of Catalonia"; or the equivalent and homonymous institution of the Valencian Community, the Generalitat Valenciana.
Government of Catalonia
Generalitat de Catalunya

Parliament, President, Government overview
Formed 1283 inception
1714 first abolition
1931 first restoration
1939 second abolition
1977 second restoration
Jurisdiction Catalonia
Headquarters Palau de la Generalitat, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Employees 165,000[1]
Annual budget €29.7 billion (2012)
Minister responsible

The Government of Catalonia[2][3][4] or Generalitat de Catalunya (Catalan; Eastern Catalan: [ʒənəɾəɫiˈtad də kətəˈɫuɲə], Western Catalan: [ʒeneɾaliˈtad de kataˈluɲa]) is the institution under which the autonomous community of Catalonia in Spain is politically organised. It consists of the Parliament of Catalonia, the President of the Generalitat de Catalunya and the Government of Catalonia.

The Generalitat had responsibility for an annual budget of 24 billion in 2006, rising to 33 billion in 2010.[5]


Medieval origins

Old emblem of the Generalitat.

The Generalitat of Catalonia stems from the medieval institution which ruled, in the name of the King of the Crown of Aragon, some aspects of the administration of the Principality of Catalonia. The first Catalan constitution is that of the Corts of Barcelona from 1283.

Another medieval precedent- the Diputació del General de Catalunya (Deputation of the General of Catalonia, where "General" means the political community of the Catalans and not the military rank) – which the 1931 legislators felt was appropriate for invoking as a legitimising base for contemporary self-government.

Catalonia’s political past as a territorially differentiated community having its own representative and autonomous institutions, with respect to the sovereign power of the combined Aragonese monarchies (1283-1516) and Castilian monarchies (1516-1808) and of the Spanish constitutional state (since 1812), can be divided into four stages, separated by three great ruptures in the legal/public order.

First abolition

Catalan institutions which depended on the Generalitat were abolished in what is currently known in Catalonia as Northern Catalonia, one year after the signature of the Treaty of the Pyrenees in the 17th century, which transferred the territory from Spanish to French sovereignty.

Then, by the early 18th century, as the Nueva Planta decrees were passed in Spain, the institution was abolished in the Spanish territory as well.

First restoration

Bank note from the Generalitat de Catalunya, 1936

The Generalitat of Catalonia was restored in southern part of Catalonia and given its modern political and representative function as the regional government of Catalonia in 1932, during the Second Spanish Republic.[6]

After the right wing coalition won the Spanish elections in 1934, the leftist leaders of the Generalitat of Catalonia rebelled against the Spanish authorities, and it was temporarily suspended from 1934 to 1936.

Second abolition

In 1939, as the Spanish Civil War finished with the defeat of the Republican side, the Generalitat of Catalonia as an institution was abolished and remained so during all the Francoist dictatorship until 1975. The president of the Generalitat at the time, Lluís Companys, was tortured and executed in October 1940 for the crime of 'military rebellion'.

Second restoration

The succession of presidents of the Generalitat was maintained in exile from 1939 to 1977, when Josep Tarradellas returned to Catalonia and was recognized as the legitimate president by the Spanish government. Tarradellas, when he returned to Catalonia, made his often quoted remark "Ciutadans de Catalunya: ja sóc aquí" ("Citizens of Catalonia: I am back!"), reassuming the autonomous powers of Catalonia, one of the historic nationalities of present-day Spain.

After this, the powers given to the autonomous Catalan government according to the Spanish Constitution of 1978 were transferred and the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia (Estatut d'Autonomia) was passed after being approved both by referendum in Catalonia and by the Spanish parliament.

Current status

Artur Mas, the leader of the Convergence and Union alliance, has been the president of the autonomous government since mid-December 2010. His party did not obtain an absolute majority in the 2010 election, but is now in government on the basis of occasional pacts with other parties. His election as president was enabled by support of the Socialists' Party of Catalonia.

José Montilla, leader of the Socialist Party, had been the president of the Generalitat until November 2010, he was backed up by a tripartite coalition of left-wing and Catalan nationalist political parties. His party actually won fewer seats in parliament than the main opposition party, Convergence and Union, in the 2006 election, but as he gathered more support from MPs from other parties in the parliament, he was able to repeat the same coalition government that his predecessor (Pasqual Maragall) had formed in order to send CiU to the opposition for the first time after 23 years of Jordi Pujol's government.

On 18 June 2006, a reformed version was approved of the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia and went into effect in August. In its inception, the reform was promoted by both the leftist parties in the government and by the main opposition party (CiU), which were united in pushing for increased devolution of powers from the Spanish government level, enhanced fiscal autonomy and finances, and explicit recognition of Catalonia's national identity; however the details of its final redaction were harshly fought and the subject became a controversial issue in the Catalan politics, with the ERC, themselves members of the Tripartite, opposing it.[7]

Autonomous system of government

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The autonomous government consists of the Executive Council, the President and the Parliament. Some people wrongly apply this name only to the executive council (the cabinet of the autonomous government); however, Generalitat de Catalunya is the system of Catalan autonomous government as a whole.

The region has gradually achieved a greater degree of autonomy since 1979. After Navarre and the Basque Country regions, Catalonia has the greatest level of self-government in Spain. The Generalitat holds exclusive and wide jurisdiction in various matters of culture, environment, communications, transportation, commerce, public safety and local governments.[8] In many aspects relating to education, health and justice, the region shares jurisdiction with the Spanish government.[9]

One of the examples of Catalonia's degree of autonomy is its own police force, the Mossos d'Esquadra ("Troopers"), which has taken over most of the police functions in Catalonia which used to be served by the Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) and the Spanish National Police Corps.

With few exceptions, most of the justice system is administered by national judicial institutions. The legal system is uniform throughout the Spanish state, with the exception of some parts of civil law – especially family, inheritance, and real estate law – that have traditionally been ruled by so-called foral law.[10] The fields of civil law that are subject to autonomous legislation have been codified in the Civil Code of Catalonia (Codi civil de Catalunya) consisting of six books that have successively entered into force since 2003.[11]

Another institution stemming from the Catalan autonomy statute, but independent from the Generalitat in its check and balance functions, is the Síndic de Greuges (ombudsman)[12] to address problems that may arise between private citizens or organizations and the Generalitat or local governments.

International presence

As an autonomous community of Spain, Catalonia is not recognized as a sovereign state by any sovereign state. However, as Catalonia has progressively gained a greater degree of self-government in recent years, the Catalan Government has established nearly bilateral relationships with foreign bodies. For the most part, these relationships are with the governments of other powerful subnational entities such as Quebec[13] or California.[14] In addition, like most Spanish autonomous communities, Catalonia has permanent delegations before international organizations, such as the European Union.[15]

Altogether, Catalonia has well over 40 representative offices worldwide.[16][17] Most of these offices are located in major world cities like London, New York City, Los Angeles, Paris, Tokyo and others. Each office has specific duties assigned by their ministry or department agency. Generally, the functions of these are the representation of specific interests of the Government of Catalonia, trade and foreign investment, Catalan culture and language support, tourist promotion and international cooperation activities.[17][18]

There are no specific Catalan political institutions in Northern Catalonia, the French département of Pyrénées-Orientales. However, since 5 September 2003, there has been a Casa de la Generalitat in Perpignan, which aims to promote the Catalan culture and facilitate exchanges between each side of the FrancoSpanish border.[19]

This is the list of the current delegations of the Generalitat of Catalonia abroad:

See also


  1. Statistical Buletin of public administrations, P.32 Archived November 26, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. Government of Catalonia. "Identificació de la Generalitat en diferents idiomes" [Official translation instruction] (PDF). Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  3. European Commission (30 April 2005). "Commission Decision of 20 October 2004 concerning the aid scheme implemented by the Kingdom of Spain for the airline Intermediación Aérea SL". p. L 110/57.
  4. UNESCO Executive Board (26 March 1999). "Framework Agreement concerning the Universal Forum of Cultures – Barcelona 2004" (PDF).
  5. "Statistical Institute of Catalonia, '''Generalitat de Catalunya. Budget. 2006-2010, by chapters'''". Retrieved 2014-04-18.
  6. Carr, Raymond. Modern Spain: 1975-1980. Oxford University Press, 1980, p.xvi.
  10. García Cantero, Gabriel (2013). Is It Possible for a Minor Code of the Nineteenth Century to Serve as a Model in the Twenty-First Century. The Scope and Structure of Civil Codes. Springer. p. 372.
  11. de Gispert i Català, Núria (2003). The codification of Catalan civil law. Regional Private Laws and Codification in Europe. Cambridge University Press. pp. 164–171.
  14. "Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 71 - Senate Office of International Relations".
  17. 1 2


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