The Spanish Constitutional Court maintains the suspension of the Catalan Declaration of Sovereignty
The Constitutional Court rejected the allegations presented by the Catalan Parliament against the decision to temporarily suspend the Declaration of Sovereignty. This text was approved in January by two thirds of the Catalan Parliament and it stated that the people of Catalonia are sovereign to decide on their collective future. The Spanish Government took the Declaration to the Constitutional Court, which accepted the appeal and temporarily suspended the text until it reached a final decision – which might take years. The Catalan President stated he was counting on the Court’s decision to maintain the suspension and he emphasised that Catalonia’s self-determination process keeps moving forward. The majority of Catalan parties accused the Constitutional Court of being politicised while Spanish nationalist parties celebrated the decision.
Barcelona (ACN).- On Thursday Spain\u2019s Constitutional Court rejected the allegations presented by the Catalan Parliament against the decision made in May to temporarily suspend the Declaration of Sovereignty. In addition, the Court decided to maintain the suspension until it reaches a definitive decision on the issue, a process which might take years. The Declaration of Sovereignty was approved on the 23rd of January by two thirds of the Catalan Parliament and it stated that the people of Catalonia are sovereign to decide on their collective future. The Spanish Government took the Declaration to the Constitutional Court, which accepted the appeal and automatically suspended the text for a five month-period. This temporary suspension could be extended for another five-month period or ratified until the Court reaches a decision. The Court decided today to ratify the temporary suspension, which leaves the Declaration without any legal effect. However, the majority of Catalan politicians have been arguing that the Declaration is a political statement and it does not have direct legal effects.
Catalonia\u2019s self-determination process goes on
Today, the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, stated from Brazil \u2013 where he is on an economic promotion trip \u2013 that he was counting on the Court\u2019s decision to reject the allegations and maintain the suspension. However, Mas emphasised that Catalonia\u2019s self-determination process will keep moving forward and he underlined the fact that the Court has not reached a definitive decision yet. The majority of Catalan parties accused the Constitutional Court of acting as \u201Ca politicised chamber\u201D. However, they also stated that Catalonia\u2019s self-determination process will continue. The President of the Catalan Parliament, Núria de Gispert, thought that the Court\u2019s decision had \u201Ca clear political content\u201D. Meanwhile, Spanish nationalist parties \u2013 which represent 20% of the Catalan Parliament \u2013 celebrated the decision, stating that the Court was \u201Cdefending democracy\u201D and \u201Cthe rule of law\u201D. The Spanish Constitutional Court was partially renovated a few weeks ago with candidates proposed by the People\u2019s Party (PP), which runs the Spanish Government. With the partial renovation, the majority of the Constitutional Court magistrates are now Conservative and close to a Spanish nationalist stance.
The suspension is kept as the Declaration \u201Cdeals with an issue that has great constitutional significance\u201D
The members of the Constitutional Court unanimously agreed on Thursday to keep the temporary suspension of the Catalan Declaration of Sovereignty. According to the magistrates, they have rejected the allegations of the Catalan Parliament and maintained the suspension since the Declaration \u201Cdeals with an issue that has great constitutional significance\u201D. The Constitutional Court argued that \u201Cthis fact is enough\u201D to decide \u201Cin favour of the ratification\u201D of the temporary suspension \u201Cduring the indispensable time for the resolution of the appeal presented\u201D. With this decision, the Declaration is no longer suspended for a five-month period but it has an indefinite suspension that will last until the Court reaches a definitive decision on the Spanish Government\u2019s appeal. This process might take several years.
The Catalan Parliament\u2019s allegation stated that the Declaration was a political text
The Spanish Government\u2019s appeal was presented in early March and the Court suspended the Declaration in early May. The Court has not waited until the end of the five-month period (early October) as it has already reached a decision regarding the Catalan Parliament\u2019s allegation against the temporary suspension. The Catalan Chamber\u2019s main argument was that the Declaration \u201Cexpresses a political will without legal effects\u201D. In addition it added that it was \u201Ca manifestation of the freedom of expression and of the exercise of political pluralism\u201D, which considers that the people of Catalonia have the right to vote on their potential independence from Spain.
The reactions of the political parties
To sum up, parties supporting Catalonia\u2019s self-determination right protested against the Constitutional Court\u2019s decision and Spanish nationalist parties celebrated it. The Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) \u2013 which runs the Catalan Government \u2013 stated that \u201Cthe will of a people cannot be suspended or annulled\u201D since the people \u201Care stubbornly committed to voting on the country\u2019s political future\u201D. CiU stated that they are \u201Cfully committed\u201D to Catalonia\u2019s self-determination right and they \u201Cwill assume all the consequences\u201D this attitude might bring them. In addition, the CiU added that in Spain \u201Cthere are three political chambers: the Parliament, the Senate and the Constitutional Court\u201D.
The Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) emphasised that \u201Conce again the Constitutional Court is following political criteria in its decisions\u201D They added that \u201Cthe trust in the Constitutional Court\u2019s independence and its legal rigour is extremely low\u201D. The ERC hoped that the Court will \u201Cexclusively use legal criteria\u201D when reaching a definitive decision. The ERC also emphasised that the organisation of a self-determination vote in Catalonia does not dependent on a Declaration of Sovereignty but on the democratically-expressed will of the majority of Catalan citizens.
The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) \u2013 which is part of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) \u2013 stated that they respect the Court\u2019s decision. However they doubted whether it is a good strategy to take \u201Ca political issue\u201D to court. The PSC insisted that the Spanish Government should talk to the Catalan Executive and abandon going through the courts.
The Catalan Green Socialist and Communist Coalition (ICV-EUiA) considered the Constitutional Court\u2019s decision to be \u201Cunjustified, unusual and dreadful\u201D. In addition they accused the Court of having an inquisitorial attitude and not fostering the path of \u201Cdialogue with Catalonia\u201D. The ICV-EUiA insisted that the majority in the Catalan Parliament should prevail, as \u201Cno court can go against the freedom of expression\u201D.
In addition the radical left-wing and independence party CUP regretted the fact that \u201Cthe opinion of 12 judges is above the will of the people\u201D. The CUP emphasised that \u201Cneither the Constitutional Court nor other court will break the will of Catalonia\u2019s people\u201D.
The People\u2019s Party (PP) insisted that the Constitutional Court\u2019s decision \u201Cis a legal one, and not a political one\u201D. The PP stated that the Court \u201Cis defending the democratic state and the rule of law\u201D. According to the PP \u201Cit is extremely important\u201D that the Court might consider the Declaration to be against the Constitution.
Finally, the anti-Catalan nationalism and populist party Ciutadans (C\u2019s) said that today\u2019s decision is \u201Cimportant because it shows which is going to be [the Court\u2019s] final decision\u201D. The C\u2019s stated that the Declaration \u201Cis an attack against Spanish democracy and against the Constitutional order\u201D.