Meritxell Campmany

Interviewed June 30, 2017 for Catalunya Barcelona docuseries.

My name is Meritxell Campmany Compte.

I was born in Barcelona March 3rd in 1970.

The truth is I’m not aware of it, just for references. I’ve barely studied the legal system before Franco. What I do know is that right before the Spanish Civil War began in 1936, there was a Republic

that recognized, for example, Catalunya’s rights. This came to an end with the Civil War and Franco.


Let’s see, of course. All the systems that do not separate state from church, try to justify or allow themselves to justify a series of policies of this supposed religious influence. Without a doubt, this is what autocratic or authoritarian states tend to do.

This can be right within a democratic state.


Well, I was a kid when Franco died. I was 5 years old, and I don’t remember Francoism, I remember a picture from when he died,

and how schools were able to teach in Catalan. I remember it was a peaceful period until 23rd February 1981, the day the coup took place.

I remember this perfectly because I was in school, and the lesson stop. We turned the radio on all day long. Teachers paid close attention to the coup.

But well, since I didn’t live Francoism, I didn’t experience such a change. I do lived the Transition. I remember this perfectly.


The Roman law system, also known as Codification, is a system applied in most Europe. It’s based on a series of codes, or basic laws, that are applied on a legal system.

Judges interpret this laws with the help of sentences, and apply them. This, in the Common Law system, the Anglo-Saxon one, works with a system of precedents. For what I know, the ones that make the laws,

and take the judicial decisions, are the judiciary. The Codification system is based on codes. First on Roman law and then on Napoleonic Code. All Europe works with the Codification system.

It shares the same points, and they’re applied the same way everywhere.


The Spanish legal system and the American one differ from one another because the importance of the jurisprudence or the precedent. The jurisprudence is important here but it can change with years. Laws are the key element of our law. Jurisprudence is the interpretation of this law.

In the North-American system or Common Law, court ruling and precedents are the ones that make the law. They have a different Constitutional system.

It has a basic Constitution with a series of mentions that regulate a lot of aspects. But yes, I think that the main difference is this one. The jurisprudence system is more important for them than for us.


From a legal perspective, women weren’t considered citizens with full rights during Franco’s reign. That meaning, a woman couldn’t have her passport done on her own, couldn’t open a bank account, and

she needed her father’s permission to get married depending on the age. My mother explained it to me, the fact that they were not able to open a bank account. Until the end of the seventies, a woman couldn’t go to the bank and open a

bank account without her husband’s permission. Neither have a passport. This is the main difference during Franco’s reign and before democracy.


Bienes gananciales [Matrimonial assents/prenuptial agreement?] are an economic marriage regime applied in Spain, not in Catalunya, at least not today.

All the money the husband and the wife earn during marriage, and that doesn’t come from “bien privativo” [doesn’t have a translation: private properties?], make a common bag that, the once this economic marriage regime is dissolved [once they get a divorce],

is divided within the two. These are bienes gananciales. It’s a common bag of properties.


Patria potestas still exists nowadays, but with another name. It’s the right that parents have over their children until they legally of age. It’s the right to deicide

their education, the right to represent them, and to protect them until they are legally of age.


Franquism was an authoritarian system. Absolutely centralist, and focused on the figure of Franco, that’s why it’s called “Franquism”. It’s a political system that only exists with Franco. He conceived Spain

as an only state-nation. There was no place for cultural or linguistic differences. Everything had to be controlled from the center. In fact, Castilian language ended up being called Spanish language.

The rest of languages were annihilated. Moreover, Catalunya had the Red Army that fought against the troops of Franco. Well, they weren’t his yet. Let’s call them the right-wing troops.

Everyone that fought him was a victim of reprisal. So, since the Catalans, or the red-ones, have confronted me, I’m going to take a reprisals against a language and a culture I do not want. I’m punishing a nation that

has misbehaved with me. They won the war, and so they applied winners politics.


Catalunya’s autonomy starts when the Spanish Constitution of 1978 is approved, and then with the Estatut de Sau in 1979. The Constitution allows

the development of what they say “nacionalidades y regiones” [nationalities and regions]. At the beginning, they thought about Catalunya, the Basque Country and Galicia. They, the “regiones de España” [Spain’s regions]

demanded it. After Franquism and the Transition, the fathers of the Constitution realize that they can’t make the Spanish Constitution last if they don’t fix these territorials,

culturals and linguistics concerns. These demands are taken into account in the Constitution, and this territories are allowed to pass a statute of autonomy. They are basically state laws, because even if they are approved at the autonomous councils, they are remade by the State.

They open the doors to the autonomies we known today.


Well, I don’t actually know. I can’t explain it. All the statutes of autonomy are state laws with the competencies of Catalunya, and of the autonomies. Some of them are delegated powers of the State.

The Constitution establishes two regimes of powers, one that is automatically granted to the autonomies, and another that can be transferred to the autonomies by the State.

There’s been a lot of controversy here. There were harmonization laws of process of the autonomic system that were appealed numerous times to the TC. However, there’s a part of the autonomy that is delegated from the State.

It’s always the same history: where are you crossing the autonomy line in case you’re doing so. This has resulted in a lot of appellations in the TC. There’s a constant argument between State and autonomies of

what you can do, and what you can’t do. Why? Because the Constitution doesn’t establish clearly in many cases the powers. The own powers are very limited.

And the rest of powers are delegations from the State.


What would Catalunya face if it was independent from a legal point of view?Well, it should start by creating its own Constitution, its own legal framework that regulates everything, the everyday. Then, it should establish a series of bilateral agreements with the Spanish government,

because in the end, they have coexisted for a long time. Many people have paid contributions to the Spanish government. There’s a relationship. Some citizens here might decide to stay as Catalan citizens in full rights, or perhaps not.

Obviously it would be… I understand that the legal structure wouldn’t be so different from the Spanish one. We would look for everything that European states have, a proper constitutional regime,

laws of development. Probably, at the beginning, they would be parallel or very similar to the Spanish ones. There would be this important transition period to regulate or

to clarify what happens with the duties, the rights and the obligations already existing.


Let’s see, I’m a Catalan nationalist and I feel 100% Catalan. In fact, I do not feel Spanish. Well, I might feel Spanish if I’m in Southeast Asia and I don’t know anyone, and I suddenly find a man from another part of Spain.

But because proximity. The same way I can feel close to a man from Paris when I am on the other side of the world. I feel Catalan, but I believe states are obsolete structures.

I believe states are nineteenth-century structures. In today’s world, they no longer make sense. Therefore, I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of a new state. Because I think the states, as we have devised them, don’t work. I think we have given a lot of sovereignty

to Europe, and even to multinationals. So, reproducing the structure of a state in Catalunya… I don’t like it. I don’t like it because I don’t think it’s the solution. The solution is the opposite.

It’s giving more importance to small nuclei, such as autonomies or other structures. We should give them more importance and sovereignty in Europe. I do not like the idea of a state, I do not like the idea of reproducing what we now have and the operations of Spain in Catalunya.

I do not think that is the solution. And maybe I disagree with most opinions in my field, but I do not think it’s… There’s obviously a problem of fitting in many ways. It is clear that things have been done badly

from both parts. They haven’t listened one another. You can’t ignore a lot of people that are asking for things… It’s not the best way to solve it. But creating a state, and reproducing the non-working structures we already have… It’s not the proper solution.


Many of the problems we have today… I mean, I believe that the growth of the independence movement in Catalunya really has its origin in the year, at the moment the TC decides to declare unconstitutional a series of decrees and

a series of articles of the new Statute of Autonomy of Catalunya, which had been approved and ratified in the parliament of Catalunya. Because in the end, the statutes, as they are set in the Spanish Constitution, are

??? from the State, they don’t belong to the autonomy. They are approved in the parliament of Catalunya, or in the autonomic parliaments, but they are laws rectified in the Spanish parliament, that is, they are ratified norms.

Then they return, and they are, sometimes, voted in a referendum. What we don’t understand here, and what was the origin of the first diada, I do not know if it was the diada, but it was a demonstration, and the first huge one in recent years.

Once this law is passed, the Statute, and many years after its approval, the TC decides to annul or declare unconstitutional a series of articles, when other statutes are directly copied from the Catalan one, like the one of Valencia and Andalusia. They have articles directly copied from the autonomous statute of Catalunya.

And since the articles of other statutes have not been appealed against by the government in the TC, they are in force today. At the same time, some articles of the Catalan Statute that were declared unconstitutional by the TC

are not in force. This has been one of the origins of everything that has happened in the last years. I think it’s an important origin because people felt,

as said in Spanish, treated like dirt. How can you decide something, follow the State’s and the Constitution rules, and, instead of making a control of constitutionality before, making it years after.

For me, that was a huge political mistake by the PP at that time. To appeal against this articles, when there were other Statutes, even in autonomies

ruled by the PP, that had the same articles. There was no problem of fitting within the Constitution.


Of course, if we compare what would be the Spanish autonomic State with the US federal system. In fact, the USA is a confederation. In other words, there were states with their own rights, duties and legal structures

that one day decided to confederate in order to create a federal state with a series of clear competences. The states also had a series of clear, and determined competences. Spain’s structure is different.

It’s federalism, a little particular. There are enough powers. That is to say, from the autonomies. However, with this structure there are only a few that are properly of the autonomies. The others are powers delegated by the state.

But yes, in fact, Spain is a federal state. The problem is that the federal structure of Spain was planned to recognize the anxieties of autonomy of a series of places that were called regions:

Catalunya, the Basque Country, Galicia and maybe Andalusia. At the end, with what is known as “café para todos”, it became a state with 17 autonomies.

They gave unwanted powers to a series of regions or autonomies that didn’t need it. This has provoked a malfunction on the system.

I believe that the most important part of the situation or lack of fitting of Catalunya within Spain

is because, when the constitution was made, everyone thought about recognizing a series of rights different from the autonomies, such as Catalunya and the Basque Country, and maybe in Galicia and Andalusia.

But not in Murcia, not in Castile and La Mancha, not in Castile and Leon. They had never had these claims, and moreover, they did not have their own language. They didn’t want teaching powers, they were fine with what they had,

with global powers. And so, it hasn’t ended up working out. It is not a system that works properly as a federal state like the US because of this, because powers

are not well defined. It should had been a symmetrical federalism. For me, it is the solution that Spain could now have. In my opinion, this is the main difference:

The structure of the United States comes from below, from a series of states that are associated, and that voluntarily cede a part of their sovereignty to a confederation. A structure similar to the EU. States that transfer a part of their sovereignty.

The structure of Spain is similar to a European structure, with many dysfunction. The opposite. In other words, a state that has everything but “generously” decides to give a series of powers so regions can be self-regulated.


Let me see. It is obvious that disputing at law in the US costs a fortune that Europeans can rarely afford. I don’t know if the reason for it being so expensive is related to the difference between Common Law and the Codification system we have here.

I think that it has to do with the cultural environment. The indemnifications in the USA are also very high. It’s more cultural, right? I mean, people don’t find it such a big deal to pay for a series of services.

Perhaps in Europe, since we have the welfare state, in which most of the time you are not paying for quality health system… People have this resistance to paying this amount of money for

stuff. I know the Common Law system and the precedent one. I don’t believe being a lawyer in the States is more difficult than here. It’s just a different system. The money they handle… The States doesn’t have a welfare system and so

it’s like the far west. That is, I look for my own rights. The differences in these lawyers’ bills can also be related to salary differences. They are very important.

The fact that you have to pay for your own private health if your company doesn’t, or a series of things, means that salaries need to be higher. In Europe, we have a welfare system

and so, minimums are always covered. If t’s not under this umbrella/pretext/context [not sure if this expression is right in English],I couldn’t explain why these differences are so huge. I don’t think there’s an intrinsic reason for the difference in exercising in one place or another.


Well, during Franco there were some pioneers able to do some things. Some women went to university, although not many. There were women lawyers, some forerunners,

More than a Franquist repression, the first women that entered the professional world, had to face their husbands’ resistance. A social resistance. Women were supposed to stay at home and take care of the kids.

The first pioneers were women whose fathers and family recognized their value and their equality. They dared to do something. Or maybe their husbands understood that they had the same capabilities and

that it was okay for them to work. My first generation is no way the first one that has entered the professional and academic world. There was one before.

They were a minority, but they existed.


I was 17 years old when the terrorists planted a bomb in Hipercor. I remember it perfectly because I went to a party that day. Back then they made… It was my cousin’s 18 birthday that day. It was a coming-out,

a kind of party that certain social classes celebrated. Young people spruced themselves up and went to a big party. It occurred that day. The day in which I went to the hairdresser’s, in which I got ready, in which I put a dress on. I got ready for the party.

And then we found out about the terrorist attack. We were shocked. Isn’t it funny how you remember these attacks in detail? They shock you to the point that you remember what remember what you were doing and how you were dressed.

What you were doing, right? Now that we talk about the terrorist attack of Hipercor, there’s one I remember in detail. It wasn’t a terrorist attack, but the day that ETA killed Miguel Ángel Blanco,

A PP alderman in the Basque Country. I don’t remember the city. He was kidnaped several days, and they [ETA] said that either ETA’s prisoners were brought back to the Basque Country, or he would die. And they killed him on a Saturday. 13th of July, 1997.

I remember it perfectly because we found that he wasn’t dead by the time he was found. He was dying. My oldest son was being born, so it’s something that will always be connected. I remember the terrorist attack of Hipercor, this one from 1997,

the terrorist attacks of Atocha, which weren’t ETA’s fault, even if they [the Government] tried to make everyone believe that they were the ones to blame.


Here in Europe, when there is an accident, even if you fall on the street or when you have a car accident, you have the right to claim a compensation. Some insurance companies even cover for them.

I once had a client that fall while walking around Badalona because of a wall that wasn’t well constructed. She got hurt, and ended up being economically compensated. But compensations here

don’t have anything to do with the States. They are way lower, and you have to prove that the public administration diid something wrong. You need to prove this malfunction.

And my perception is that in the US, it’s exactly the opposite. That is to say that the administration, for example, or whoever is responsible of any goods, has to do anything that is on its hands to avoid accidents.

For instance, that he/it didn’t act right within ??, that he/it had done everything that was possible. The difference here is that compensations are lower. I believe this is because what we said about the welfare system.

The welfare system covers many aspects, right? You have free health care, your children are economically compensated in case your husband, the person who brings the money home, dies…

You have free education with free lunch rooms… We have a welfare system that allows you to live, not as good as you did, but good enough, even if you’ve suffered and accident or you’re going through some difficult situation.

In places like the United States where you don’t have this, some misfortunes can be the death of you, socially speaking. I believe this is why there’s a compensation system that

Europeans find so exorbitant. We find exorbitant that you’re compensated because a scaling coffee falls on you in a McDonals. We think it’s just an accident.

It’s ok because you have health care, and you’ll be treated in a Hospital. You might be compensated if there has been a negligence, or if it has been done on purpose. But

we just don’t get it. We don’t understand why compensations are so different in the States.


I’m a lawyer. I don’t think people are limited. I mean, freedom of speech is well covered in Spain, but of course there’re a series of things in the penal code

like not commit an outrage against the basic institutions of the State and so on. This law is applied by judges, and so they can have different views. Here, the king has been caricatured.

There are tv shows every week in which public figures are laugh at. I don’t believe there’s a lack of freedom of speech,

but there are some limits in the penal code. There are certain rules that make it possible to consider it an attack of basic state structures, or terrorism glorification.

Or that certain hate speeches can be punished. I don’t think this is actually a limit when it comes to freedom of speech. Although judges are the ones applying the law, and so it is subject to their criteria.


The Olympics were great for Barcelona and for my generation. We enjoyed them. I remember perfectly the day Barcelona won the Olympics. I was 16,

I believe. I was in high-school and people were joyful. People singed up to be volunteers, and Barcelona changed radically.

The circular structure that surrounds the city appeared overnight. People didn’t know it was being built. I had to use them to cross the city. The sea appeared. Barcelona was with its back to the sea.

Xiringuitos didn’t allow you to go there, it was… And suddenly you had the promenade, and places on the beach. There’s a before and after in Barcelona’s Olympics. The opening to the world, to tourism, to knowledge.

And for my generation. I was 22 when the Olympics were celebrated. It was beautiful, stunning. A very important change for the city. The locals earned self-esteem.

You think you live in a provincial city within Franco’s Spain, and then one day you say: “Listen, no. I speak to the world equally. We have much to say, and we are capable of organizing things.

We are capable of doing great things”. I remember these stand-up comedians called “Martes y Trece” [Tuesday 13rd] that every New’s Year’s eve would said “They are not going to make it on time”.

They said that the construction work for the Olympics wouldn’t be on time. But everything was ready at the end, and it was fairly good. Locals were proud. It was an important change.


I think we are a country with large family networks, and I think that black economy still plays a key role. It’s not credible that there aren’t more social demonstrations nor people dying of hunger with the high rate of unemployment.

So yes, I believe that strong family networks, along with the insurances of the welfare system, allows people to get by without a lot of things.

Wiliness still exists: if you can avoid paying the IVA, you do. This explains how Spanish people survive with this unemployment rate. If it wasn’t for this, there would be a social revolution.

On one hand you find the black economy, and on the other, this. Networks allow unemployed people to get by, otherwise, it wouldn’t make any sense.


What has thrown out local stores from the main streets of Barcelona, is the rental increase. These local stores have been able to stand up while the rent was protected by old incomes.

That is, rents with a small income. When the transitional period from a law made in 1994 came to an end, these old incomes had to have the same market price. Multinationals have pressured them a lot.

They have more money and they have pushed them. They’ve offered more money owners than the local shops. Local shops’ owners couldn’t pay it, and so they have been ousted/pushed aside.