Electoral board strips CUP’s Pau Juvillà of MP seat following disobedience ruling

Parliament speaker Laura Borràs has vowed to not act until Supreme Court rules on issue

CUP MP Pau Juvillà in Lleida (by Laura Cortés)
CUP MP Pau Juvillà in Lleida (by Laura Cortés) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

January 20, 2022 05:24 PM

The electoral board decided to strip far-left pro-independence CUP MP Pau Juvillà of his seat following a High Court ruling in December in which he was found guilty of disobedience for not removing yellow ribbons from his office in the Lleida council during an election period.

The court handed down a 6-month disqualification from public office as well as a €1,080 fine.

Parliament speaker Laura Borràs vowed to not take action to remove Juvillà, who is also a parliament bureau member, from the chamber until the Supreme Court rules on the appeal that has already been brought forth against this ruling. 

Anti-capitalist CUP political party upholds the "December 17 vote at the Catalan Parliament to ensure Juvillà's MP condition prevails," they tweeted. Adding to "defend the chamber's independence."

Other Catalan politicians, such as Parliament speaker Laura Borràs highlighted that she will "defend the rights of all MPs to ensure the freedoms of their voters." 

Members of the pro-independence Esquerra Republicana party, Engelbert Montalà and Jordi Albert, considered the decision "unfair and anti-democratic."

While, unionist Ciudadanos leader, Carlos Carrizosa, celebrated the electoral board decision "as Torra back in the day, Juvillà will have to leave his seat and Borràs does not have any more power to avoid it," Carrizosa said on Thursday. 

Juvillà's case is reminiscent of that of former Catalan president Quim Torra, who was first disqualified by the High Court in a decision that was then backed by the electoral board and upheld by the Supreme Court.

The case against Juvillà

Juvillà's case dates back to the 2019 municipal election period, when Juvillà was a Lleida city council member, and he did not remove yellow ribbons from the CUP office in the town hall. 

Since late 2017 following the referendum deemed illegal by Spain, yellow ribbons have come to signal solidarity with the formerly jailed independence leaders as well as those who have moved abroad to avoid being prosecuted for their actions. 

Ciudadanos, a center-right party that is staunchly against splitting with Spain and that used to be Catalonia's largest opposition party, lodged a complaint against Juvillà with the Electoral Board for displaying what they described as partisan symbols during an electoral period.

Despite this, on April 3, 2019, the then-councilor refused to take them down in an act of defiance that led to disobedience charges. The yellow ribbons were eventually taken down by Mossos d'Esquadra police officers. 

The public prosecutor had requested an 8-month disqualification from public office as well as a €1,440-fine.

Because Juvillà became an MP in the Catalan Parliament following the February 14 elections, the case had to be tried in the High Court. 

Ex-president's yellow ribbon disqualification

Juvillà is not the first politician to face a similar sentence due to yellow ribbons; in fact, former Catalan president Quim Torra was twice charged with disobedience for hanging symbols in solidarity with pro-independence figures from the government headquarters in Barcelona during election campaign periods.

In September 2020, Spain's Supreme Court upheld the December 2019 Catalan High Court ruling disqualifying Torra for 18 months, the first yellow ribbon ruling against him, effectively removing him from office and handing the presidency to then-vice president Pere Aragonès.