Step forward towards the Referendum and disconnection despite disqualifications

Catalan MonitorAra, News Roundup

The Bureau of the Catalan Parliament accepts to include the independence consultation to be held in September on the national budget and starts the reform of its rules.

The day after the condemn of former Catalan prime minister Artur Mas and the former ministers Joana Ortega and Irene Rigau there were no great protest demostrations nor massive disobedience acts, not even irate reactions of the pro-self determination politicians. The independentist movement has reacted serenely to a “malefic” -as qualified by the government spokesperson, Neus Munté-,which has not surprised the Catalan Government. The pro-sovereignty associations, which congregated 40,000 people before the Court of Justice on the start of the trials on the consultation made on the 9th of November 2014, would rather “not waste their energy before due time”, according to sources contacted by ARA. Installed in this “calm”, the Government has insisted that “it shall not hesitate”. Munté insisted on this yesterday to consolidate the compromise of the Executive with the referendum as a priority for the legislature, which remains “invariable”.

The calender is whimsical and one day after knowing the positioning of the Catalan High Court of Justice two decisions of the Bureau of the Catalan Parliament make it clear that the independentist political groups by-pass the disqualifications and head for disconnection. Two steps forward which were already foreseen, which take an even greater symbolism after the court ruling. On the one hand, the Bureau acccepted that the amendments on the referendum presented by the independentist coalition Junts pel Sí and the Catalunya Sí Que es Pot group, which stands for a referendum held by means of a pact with the Central Government, should be voted next week on the final budget debate. Both defend an agreed way to the referendum and will probably end up not prospering since none of these groups will vote for the other one’s proposal. Yet, the “unilateral way” will be saved because of an agreement between the two independentist groups: Junts pel Sí and CUP. The budget will then keep its compromise with the referendum even if this may result in it getting suspended by the Constitutional Court.

The other decision of the Bureau was the convocation of the parliamentary commission that will be charged with reforming the rules of the Parliament. This Thursday, the group that will work towards an “express disconnection” procedure will be created. Yesterday, the unionist parties Ciutadans, Partit Popular, Catalunya Sí que es Pot and the Socialists’ Party annunciated that they will not take part in it -even if it is planed to be a multi-party work- since they do not share the need to allow parliamentary groups the possibility to approve law projects by means of a “single lecture”, i.e. in only one day. The Populars and Ciutadans have threatened to denounce this reform before the Constitutional Court which doubtlessly will continue playing a relevant role as a battering ram for the state against the disconnection laws and the Referendum.

Life does not change after the sentences against the those responsible for the 9th of November consultation and the Parliament and the Government keep on working “full throttle”, according to executive sources. The weekly meeting of the executive council was a means for the ministers to be brought together in a message of “steadfastness” in favour of the referendum and begin the debate on how should the judiciary actions against the self-determination process should best be combated. In the press conference held afterwards, Munté put the Government besides the strategy of Mas, Ortega and Rigau to exhaust the judiciary procedure to prove their innocence, even before the European courts if needed. Whether or not the disqualifications should be accepted will be a decision that will be taken together with the whole pro-self determination movement, as explained by the Executive spokeswoman.

Rigau will set a precedent.

As well, parliamentary sources explain that Junts pel Sí had conjured itself so as to decide whether Rigau,  the only one of the condemned because of the consultation that is an active member of the Catalan Parliament shall renounce to her membership or not when the Spanish Supreme Court will confirm the ruling of  the Catalan High Court. Yesterday at the meeting room of her group,  the former minister for education received her sentence from a judiciary secretary notifying the eighteen months of disqualification and the 24,000 Euro fine. Together with one of the cardboard ballot boxes used on the 9th of November consultation, the speaker of the Catalan Parliament and around thirty members of Junts pel Sí, the CUP and CSQP, Rigau received an ovation. After a few minutes, everyone returned to their jobs.

Whatever Rigau does will set a precedent for the likely disqualifications of elected officials that mayhappen in the coming months. The next ones down the line are Forcadell and the independentist members of the Bureau of the Parliament, who have already two pending cases for having allowed the debate on issues banned by the Constitutional Court.  The CUP and the grassroots independentist association, Assemblea Nacional Catalana (Catalan National Assembly) have asked Rigau to disobey the Spanish courts and go to work the day after the ruling becomes effective regardless of her disqualification.

Rigau receives an ovation from fellow members of the Catalan Parliament. Source: Toni Albir / EFE

Rigau receives an ovation from fellow members of the Catalan Parliament. Source: Toni Albir / EFE

The case of Francesc Homs, former spokesman of the Catalan Government and current leader of the independentist Partit Demòcrata Europeu Català (PDECat) fraction in the Spanish Parliament. The Supreme Court ruling, which is expected to be issued shortly, shall be firm and, differently to Rigau, Homs will not be in an inviting atmosphere to disobey a ruling that shall left him out of Spanish politics.

It is therefore predicted that Homs shall be the following person to be disqualified, but independentist politics hold no doubts: the plan goes on.

Forcadell advises Rigau with the Catalan High Court of Justice: “I know this business”.

Irene Rigau had been waiting for almost one hour when, five minutes before noon, a judicial secretary of the Catalan High Court of Justice entered Junts pel Sí’s meeting room. The former minister, joined by around thirty members of the Parliament, sat with the ruling on her hands, looked at it and found out she did not know where it should be signed. First, Anna Simó, secretary of the Parliament’s Bureau and then its speaker, Carme Forcadell, oriented the member of Parliament. “I know this business”, the latter pointed out, ironically, in front of the cameras, remembering the many times that the representatives of the Bureau of the Catalan Parliament have received the visits of the High Court secretaries. Once the procedure was finished, Rigau thanked those with her for their support and address

ed them a few words to strengthen the compromise with democracy: “We started to walk so that people could speak and the ruling is not a stone in the way, but rather a push towards the objective that we must attain”.

Source: ARA, 15th of March, 2017.

Author: Aleix Moldes