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Catalan parliament and Spain to clash over bill to allow Puigdemont’s swearing-in

Spanish government ready to challenge amendment of presidency law


04 May 2018 11:20 AM


ACN | Barcelona

The Parliament of Catalonia is set to clash with Spanish institutions after pro-independence parties used their majority to amend a law in order to allow Carles Puigdemont, the deposed president of Catalonia, to be sworn in as head of the government from Germany.

The Spanish government announced that it was ready to challenge the eventual amendment to the presidential law in the Constitutional Court—a move that would automatically put the bill on hold. On Friday, Madrid requested a consultative body report before bringing the bill to court.

In yet another attempt to appoint a new Catalan president, pro-independence parties aim to provide a legislative framework for Puigdemont to retake his post at a distance. All attempts to elect a new head of government have so far been blocked by the Spanish judiciary, after pro-independence parties held on to a majority in parliament in last December’s election.

Pro-independence parties decided to fast-track the amendment of the law with single reading—this, despite the opposition of the rest of forces in the chamber, who deemed this decision as unjustified considering the importance of the bill.

  • "We're once again seeing how a parliamentary majority—which doesn't even have the majority of the popular vote—is again bypassing the rights of the majority of citizens"

    Inés Arrimadas · Ciutadans leader

"We're once again seeing how a parliamentary majority—which doesn't even have the majority of the popular vote—is again bypassing the rights of the majority of citizens," said Inés Arrimadas, the leader of Ciutadans, the main unionist party in Catalonia.

Still, pro-independence parties defended the move. "Many laws have been approved through single reading. For example, the [Spanish] constitution, said Albert Batet, MP of Puigdemont's Junts per Catalunya party.

Antoni Castellà, an MP for Esquerra Republicana, criticized unionist parties for not recognizing Puigdemont's right to be appointed as president. "Part of this chamber doesn't accept that the rest of the MPs have the same political rights," said Castellà.

Yet Puigdemont's swearing-in is far from assured. "Why make a law that you yourselves said you won't use? Why make a law to swear in someone who cannot be sworn in?" said Miquel Iceta, the leader of the Socialist party.

Xavier Domènech, the leader of Catalunya en Comú-Podem, neither pro-independence or unionist, also criticized the amendment of the law: "We already know that Puigdemont isn't a viable candidate: at least not in the coming months. Inasmuch, this debate is a mirage."

Far-left CUP, another pro-independence party, urged its senior partners not to abide by the Spanish judiciary—even if the Constitutional Court overrules the amendment of the presidency law. "It's been too long that this chamber has been controlled from abroad," said CUP MP Maria Sirvent.

Catalonia has been without a government since October 27, when the Spanish executive responded to a declaration of independence in the Catalan parliament by triggering Article 155 of the Constitution to suspend self-rule, dismiss all government officials and call a new election.

Puigdemont and other pro-independence officials left the country in order to avoid prosecution. The deposed president is currently in Germany, where he awaits a final decision on his extradition after being detained on a European Arrest Warrant issued by Spain.

Santi Rodríguez, an MP for the Catalan branch of Spain's ruling People's Party, said that the amendment of the presidency law favored "a person who did not comply with his obligations" and "who left Catalonia and Spain to escape justice."

Last January, a first attempt to appoint Puigdemont was blocked by the Constitutional Court. The Spanish government challenged his candidacy and the court decided to put the investiture on hold, ruling that in order to retake his post he should first hand himself over to the Spanish judiciary to ask for permission to attend the Catalan chamber.