“The right to decide”, by Mercè Barceló
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If the right to decide is understood to mean the individual right of the citizens of Catalonia to express themselves collectively on the possible secession of the Catalan territory from Spain, this right is recognised in Article 20 of the Spanish Constitution (SC) under the designation of freedom of expression; moreover, if this right were to be exercised, for example through a popular consultation, it would in such event entail the exercise of the fundamental right recognised in Article 23 of the SC, that is to say, the right of all citizens to participate directly in public affairs.
Consequently, what has been defined in Catalonia as the right to decide is nothing other than a formulation of rights pre-existing constitutionally in a democratic State, dressed in a new attire. Without considering whether or not the purpose of proclaiming the right to decide is to effectively establish an independent State, this right has as its content, and consequently grants as a set of faculties to their holders, the power to express collectively the individual positions of these holders with respect to the territorial future of Catalonia as a political community. Moreover, this collective positioning must reach its addressees, primarily the public authority of the Spanish State, without obstacles or impediments. Likewise, as will be seen further on, the right to decide does not grant to its holders the power to make unilaterally a constitutional change or break, but rather it grants the power to have the freely expressed majority position taken into consideration by the addressees thereof if such position runs counter to the constitutionally established territorial order. It therefore entails, in the end, the right to initiate a change of the constitutional order and, in the specific terms in which it is formulated in Catalonia, a change in the territorial configuration.