Interview with Javier Pérez Royo, Professor of Constitutional Law
By ERNESTO KAIZER Barcelona
Javier Pérez Royo (Seville, 1944) is Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Seville. He denounced the resolution by the Spanish Constitutional Court against the Catalan Statute in 2010, calling it a “coup d’état”. In an interview with the newspaper Ara, he maintains if we are to talk about Catalonia on 2 October, we have to contemplate the possibility of Catalonia having had its government suspended and no autonomy.
The Spanish government has “subcontracted” the task of preventing the referéndum to the Constitutional Tribunal.
Among the supporters of the referéndum, there was a diversity that made operations difficult to manage. Now, the management is unified and they are going all out. What’s on the opposing side? Rajoy’s government thought he had the situation under control and that the “Process” was falling appart and now he realices that this is not the case. A “Miura” bull has entered the arena and the Spanish government doesn’t want to fight it and it wants the Constitutional Tribunal to fight it instead.
Rajoy can’t even see the bull…
El problema is there are two million votes, or 50% of the electorate, who support the “Process”. That hasn’t changed. They may be more or less active, but that’s what the two million who voted on 9 November have achieved. On the opposite side, there’s a similar number, but they’re not organized.
The only way to prevent it is by physical action…
The referendum as it was announced can’t be held. The electoral census is impossible to get because it’s the Central Election Board who would have to provide it. There are certain formalities that only the State can facilitate. It will be like 9 November, only at the next level of formality, having been expressly called; but a referendum with all the requirements can’t be held without the collaboration of the State. The State has to prevent even this one. Because if it’s held, it will be shown to be a success in having beat the resistance of the State. Rajoy’s government can’t allow it to happen, because all its credibility is on the line. They will ave to repress it.
The Spanish government has delegated the application of Art. 155 to the Constitutional Court to suspend the Catalan government.
Yes. They can apply measures suspending and disqualifying the government. But then someone would have to run the Generalitat (Catalan government). I don’t rule out that, should the referendum become impossible to hold, the Generalitat could turn to civilian organisations, ANC or Òmnium to delegate certain actions.
El Constitutional Tribunal would have to apply the newly reformed 2015 law, and suspend the Government for not complying with its resolutions.
If the Constitutional Tribunal were to apply the measures provided in the reformed law, it would have to suspend the Government. It can even act of its own accord. It would have to leave Catalonia without a Government. OK. It suspends the Government. What happens next? How would the Autonomous community be run? Can domino resignations at all levels of the administration be ruled out?
But this chain is broken at the Mossos d’Esquadra (Cataln Police forcé) level with the replacement of their General Director…
The Mossos are a key element in running the referendum and keeping order on 1 October. They will guarantee public civil liberties. If it is prohibited, it is they who will have to prevent the polling stations from opening. This change in the leadership of the Mossos proves that the theory of the “soufflé”, that the movement will end up giving up and then we’ll be magnanimous, is false. It’s what Rajoy is now selling as the Basque model, even though it was he who refused the fiscal agreement, in line with the Basque one, when Artur Mas placed it in the table as an ultimatum. They only want to talk in terms of defeat and rendition.
What will we get on 1-O?
Legally, it won’t be a referendum. It may be a 9 November rerun, which was a referendum in practice, although legally it wasn’t. But in practice, for the independence movement, it was counting votes. How many of us are there? Only supporters of independence took part. We’ll see whether this time it increases or decreases. However, 8 November was festive; this time it will be more dramatic.
The promoters are hoping for a repeat 9 November, but on a larger scale
You can think it’s a 9 November replay, but not acknowledge it. The expectations are aimed at the engagement, because if it increases it will have been a success.
This is a battle between two political options, two public opinions. Rajoy’s government has quite favourable public support outside Catalonia, but in Catalonia, that’s not the case. Here, the Spanish government is losing the fight for public opinion.
The aim is to show that the Catalan people will speak regardless of the veto
The promoters of 1-O want to show that the Rajoy government doesn’t allow them to hold a proper referendum, but that the support for it was there. The plan is that the high level of engagement would justify calling a referendum.
The State was counting on the Mossos, but that’s no longer guarranteed…
Yes, if it’s not the Mossos, it will have to be the Guardia Civil or National Police. They could also rally organisations like “Societat Civil Catalana” or “Advocats Catalans per la Constitució” to act against those taking part by taking them to court or making complaints before the public prosecutor. These are the two organisations who have brought President Mas before the Court of Audit. But that would only increase the civil disharmony. They’ve lost control. That’s what Miquel Roca said in 2010, after the resolution by the Constitutional Tribunal, on the Statute: Spain has a problem.
And this unrest will grow, what with the Catalan national day celebrations in the middle…
I may be wrong, but we won’t only have the National Day. I’m thinking about the overflow of that celebration, the two weeks of campaigning for the referendum. And maybe by then, Catalonia may not have a government. The Rajoy government would need at least two or three weeks to implement article 155 through the Senate, but that’s not how it would go, the Constitutional Tribunal can disqualify the President and the Government in four hours. Disqualifying the Government is tantamount to suspending the autonomy. This would be emergency rule. If you suspend the Government, you can’t dissolve Parliament and call elections. And if things get nasty, it could involve arrests and even accusations of revolt.
People of good will believe that as from 2 October, a new phase will begin.
But what if there is no Government in Catalonia on 2 October? If the autonomy has been suspended de facto, via measures by the Constitutional Tribunal, and there is no Government, Parliament won’t be able to convene. So, who will be in charge?
There’s no way out…
Source: ARA.cat http://www.ara.cat/politica/Javier-Perez-Royo-L1-O-Catalunya_0_1837616325.html?utm_campaign=_news30clics&utm_source=ara&utm_medium=email