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Comply or not comply? Parliament to decide on response to MPs’ suspension

With a parliamentary vote on Supreme Court ruling a possibility, unionist parties welcomed the barring of prosecuted politicians

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11 July 2018 06:16 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

How to respond to the Supreme Court suspension of six Catalan MPs being prosecuted for their involvement in last year’s independence bid is now in the hands of Parliament president, Roger Torrent. As the head of the parliament bureau, it is his decision whether or not the Catalan chamber should abide by the ruling. While Parliament considers its options, Catalonia’s political parties were not shy about giving their opinion on how to proceed.

Rulings are to be obeyed, says Cs

For Inés Arrimadas, the leader of the Ciutadans (Cs) opposition party, court rulings are there to be obeyed. In response to the possibility that the pro-independence parties might table a debate and vote on the suspensions, the Cs leader said that legal rulings cannot be subject to a parliamentary vote to see “if you like them or not.”  

Calling the decision “clear,” Arrimadas insisted that if the law says an MP must be suspended, “there is no parliamentary regulation that can override it.” The Cs leader, who is critical of the new Spanish executive’s softer approach to the Catalan crisis, asked if president Pedro Sánchez will look the other way “when Parliament fails to comply with the court ruling.”  

Rulings "cannot be subject to a vote," says PSC

As for the Catalan branch of the unionist People’s Party (PPC), its leader, Xavier García Albiol, described the suspensions as “unprecedented” and also called on the pro-independence parties to respect the court’s decision. Albiol expressed “concern” that there might be a vote on the ruling in Parliament, as “no MP can be allowed the luxury of being above justice and the law.”

Meanwhile, the leader of the other unionist party, the Catalan Socialists (PSC), also rejected the idea of voting on the ruling. “Court rulings must be obeyed and cannot subject to a vote,” said Miquel Iceta. The PSC leader also rejected accusations that the Supreme Court judge who issued the ruling, Pablo Llarena, was trying to “tamper with the majority” in the chamber.

Torra describes ruling as "direct attack" on democracy

For the pro-independence parties, the court ruling is a blow, with Catalan president Quim Torra describing it as a “direct attack” on the sovereignty of the Catalan chamber. From Edinburgh, where Torra is visiting exiled former Catalan minister, Clara Ponsatí, the president described the ruling as “indecent” and yet more proof that the separation of powers in Spain “is a myth.”

With the pro-independence parties considering their response to the ruling, the far-left CUP party spokesman, Carles Riera, said he expected “the sovereignty of the Catalan parliament to prevail over Spanish institutions.” CUP, whose four votes clinched the majority allowing the formation of a Catalan government, wants Parliament to defy the ruling, with Riera warning that “plan B is not a solution.”  

Even the Catalan Ombudsman, Rafel Ribó, weighed in on the issue, criticizing Llarena for suspending the MPs. According to Ribó, the Supreme Court ruling “is not applicable,” as it draws on an article of criminal law that requires “a use of weapons or explosives that never occurred.” Ribó also said that the ruling “directly affects the right of participation and representation” of the MPs, and he recommended them to challenge the order in court.

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  • Leader of Cs in Catalonia Inés Arrimadas speaks to the press at parliament on July 11 2018 (by Rafa Garrido)

  • Leader of Cs in Catalonia Inés Arrimadas speaks to the press at parliament on July 11 2018 (by Rafa Garrido)