Constitutional Court preemptively suspends Catalan regulation

Spanish Government appeal in court suspends the reform to fast-track the referendum on self-determination in Catalonia

The Spanish Constitutional Court (by ACN)
The Spanish Constitutional Court (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

August 1, 2017 12:22 PM

The political tension continues between Catalonia and Spain. The latest episode has the Spanish Constitutional Court unanimously accepting the Spanish government’s appeal against the legislative reform passed last Wednesday in the Catalan Parliament which Catalan MPs had planned to use to fast-track the referendum.

It took Spain just three working days to overturn the Catalan Parliament’s new regulation. The Court, which met in an urgent session on Monday despite the fact that the judges’ calendar did not foresee any sessions until September, completed on Monday what the State Council began last Thursday by approving the appeal. In Spain any appeal admitted by the Constitutional Court from the Spanish government against any new law from an autonomous community leads automatically to a preemptive suspension of that law for an initial five months.

The Spanish government appeal objects to article 135.2 of the Catalan reform, claiming that the aim of the change is “to facilitate an unconstitutional referendum on self-determination.” The Spanish executive believes that the Catalan chamber’s regulation violates “the right of political participation of the parliamentary minority.” Article 135.2 says that parliamentary groups can propose that any law be processed with a single reading in Parliament.  

According to Spanish President Mariano Rajoy, the Catalan reform “violates Article 23.2 of the Spanish Constitution and Catalan Statute 29.1 related to the citizens’ right to participate in public affairs through their representatives”.

Constitutional Court judging “intentions and not facts”

After the Constitutional Court suspended the Catalan Parliament’s reform Monday, Carme Forcadell, the chamber's president, questioned why the single reading is illegal in Catalonia when it is legal in other autonomous communities' parliaments and in Congress. Forcadell complained that the Constitutional Court is judging “intentions and not facts”. The President of the Parliament said that citizens and parliaments “are not treated equally” before the law in Spain, something which she qualified as “very serious in a democracy”.

Subsequently, Forcadell asked in how many of the 14 autonomous parliaments with single reading laws has this law been suspended. She also pointed out that the proceeding is also part of the Spanish Congress’ regulations and that the selfsame Constitutional Court’s reform was approved through this proceeding. “The Constitutional Court’s sentence on the single reading proceeding says that there is no hindrance for any law, no matter how complicated it is, to be processed in one single reading,” Forcadell added.

On the other hand, Forcadell defended the Catalan Parliament’s sovereignty and, the right to debate any matter as well as the freedom of expression. She advanced that the Bureau plans to appeal the court’s decision. “The right to defense of all Parliaments must be used,” she concluded.