The Generalitat de Catalunya reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Apr-2004
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Generalitat de Catalunya

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The Generalitat de Catalunya is the official name of the autonomous system of government of Catalonia, in Spain. (The Valencian Autonomous Government also calls itself Generalitat (Generalitat Valenciana)). The Catalan Generalitat descends from the medieval institution which ruled Catalonia, within the Catalan-Aragonese Confederation, in name of the King of Catalonia-Aragon (in a constitutional system some say is the first in Europe).

The Catalan Generalitat was "restored" in 1932, during the 2nd Spanish Republic with Francesc Macià as president. President Macià died in 1933, and the next president was Lluis Companys. After the Spanish right wing won the elections in 1934, the Catalan Generalitat rebelled against the Spanish authorities, and was suspended from 1934 to 1936.

In 1939, President Companys marched to exile, but in 1940 he was returned to Francoist Spain by German agents, and was shot at the Castle of Montjuïc in Barcelona. The succession of Catalan Generalitat presidents 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 famous remark to Catalans Ja sóc aqui (I'm here, now!), reassuming the autonomous powers of Catalonia, one of the historical nationalities of present-day Spain. After the reassumption of powers by the Generalitat, the Catalan autonomy was delineated in conformity with the new Spanish Constitution (1978), with the approval of the Catalan Statute of Autonomy (Estatut d'Autonomia). In 1980, Jordi Pujol was elected the next president of the Catalan Generalitat. After 23 years with Pujol's conservative government, a left-wing coalition will replace him in 2003 with the new president Pasqual Maragall, leader of the Socialist Party. The new coalition will work for a more independent Catalonia.

The Catalan Statute is still in force today, in spite of many Catalan politicians defending its reform, in order to extend and protect Catalan autonomy (against what they see as a centralist backlash from Aznar's Spanish government). (In the system defended by some, Catalonia would have sufficient autonomy to have its own representation in the EU and other more symbolic issues like having its own national sport teams in international competitions, like Scotland, Wales and England).

The Generalitat is constituted by the Council, the President and the Parliament. Some people wrongly apply this name only to the Council, as if it was the same as Cabinet - however, Generalitat de Catalunya is the (autonomous) Catalan system of government, just like, for example, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is the (independent) Luxembourg system of government.

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