Catalan Speaker Forcadell postpones the “collision” and gets a another warning from the Constitutional Tribunal

Catalan MonitorNews Roundup

The Bureau postpones the admission of the Referendum Bill on the same day as the Constitutional Tribunal vetoes the Catalan Parliamentary Regulation reform.

The Catalan Parliamentary Regulation reform which would allow the express disconnect from Spanish legislation is still suspended. The Spanish constitutional Tribunal Plenary resolved, yesterday, to reject the appeal by the Catalan Generalitat against the interim suspension of Article 135.2 of the regulation, whereby a parliamentary group may lead a draft bill through in a single reading. The decision, previewed by ARA news outlet, was taken on the same day that the bureau of the Catalan Parliament resumed its activities after the summer recess so the CT was able to get its notification in personally during the morning. The Speaker of the Parliament postponed the admission of the referendum bill – the point on the agenda was excluded on Friday- thus delaying the “collision” with the Spanish State.
The CT rejected the appeal by the Generalitat – claiming an “abuse of rights” by the Spanish government – as the Spanish government alleged substantive issues, when only procedural issues regarding the manner in which Mariano Rajoy’s government challenged the reform of the regulation could be alleged prior to the resolution. The appeal “does not question the existence of requirements for proceeding of the unconstitutionality action brought by the president of the [Spanish] government, but that, on entering into a premature evaluation of the substance, brings allegations which are untimely”, says the Constitutional Tribunal, along the lines of the allegations brought by the State Attorney.
Warning to the Bureau
Just a few hours before issuing the resolution on the Catalan Government’s appeal, the CT officially notified the Bureau of the suspension of the reform of the regulation. Two civil servants of the Supreme Court of Justice of Catalonia personally brought the notification to the Catalan Parliament midmorning and delivered it to all the members of the body presided by Speaker Carme Forcadell. The resolution specifies the “obligation to avoid or paralyze any initiative entailing ignoring the suspension decreed”. The notifications also warn that disobedience by the addressees would “entail liabilities, including criminal liabilities”.
In a statement after the civil servants of the Supreme Court had left, Spaeker Forcadell challenged the Constitutional Tribunal to also suspend the single reading procedure in other regional Parliaments and in the Spanish State Parliament – which was also brought up in the appeal by the Catalan government-. Otherwise, she added, it would prove that “in this country there are first and second class parliaments and that people are judged according to their intentions and not according to fact”. The Parliament will also bring allegations against the suspension.
The Catalan Government is not surprised at the decision by the Constitutional Tribunal and the Minister for the Presidency (Secretary of State), Jordi Turull, accused the high tribunal of “mistaking” political power for judicial power. “The CT is the judicial fancy dress for political decisions”, he said. And in an interview for ACN, Lluís Corominas, President of JxSí, said that they would approve the Referendum Bill in the manner that provided “the greatest effectiveness and guarantees”. He did not give details, but he did say that no route was ruled out.
The Bureau keeps plans close to their chest
For the time being, the Bureau of the Parliament has not debated the admission of the bill allowing the 1 October Referendum. Forcadell has justified this because of the “complex nature” of the law, but also due to the judicial pressure by the State. “We can’t be naïve; we know the politics are being judicialised”, she said. Now the Bureau might admit the bill on 22 or 29 August – or call an extraordinary session – to allow the debate on the bill at the plenary on 6 or 7 of September – though Madam Speaker said she was still considering it.
Junts pel Sí and CUP registered the bill on 31 July –the same day that the CT suspended the reform of the parliamentary regulation – and it was assumed that the Parliament the natural step would be to admit the bill at the first meeting after the summer break. This is precisely the issue the opposition latched upon as a criticism to the decision of the Bureau. “This is a Mickey Mouse Parliament”, said PP party leader, Xavier García Albiol, and Ciutadans’ spokesperson at the Parliament, Fernando de Páramo, took the view that this delay was an excuse by the pro independence forces, as they “have no idea of how to do” the referendum. Speaker Forcadell argued that “she had no obligation to do it” at this first meeting. This 16 August session was not serene; within the first 20 minutes, both the Ciutadans party representative, José María Espejo Saavedra, and the Socialist, David Pérez, demanded explanations and accused Speaker Forcadell of having taken this decision “following the plans of a specific parliamentary group”.
The PSC Party will bring the bill before the CGE (Catalan Statute Guarantee Council)
In the meantime, the PSC has said that they will bring the bill before the (CGE). The Socialists consider that the aim of the pro Independence majority and the Speaker is, by “stalling and dissimulating” in this way, “to avoid that the CGE rule on this bill[…]. this is why we have decided to anticipate the events”, said Miquel Iceta, while circulating the draft request to the CGE.
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