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Parliament votes to defend disqualified MP's seat with Supreme Court appeal

ERC, JxCat, CUP and CatECP side with Pau Juvillà after he was barred from office for not removing yellow ribbons during election period

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25 January 2022 05:06 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

A majority in the Catalan parliament has voted to defend the seat of CUP MP Pau Juvillà with an administrative contentious appeal to the Spanish Supreme Court. 

ERC, JxCat, CUP and CatECP voted in favor of the motion, the Socialists abstained while Vox, Cs and PPC voted against it. 

Last week the electoral board decided to strip the far-left pro-independence MP 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.

According to Juvillà, this decision was "an attack on freedom of expression and fundamental rights," and as such vowed to take his case to European courts if necessary in order to "guarantee the sovereignty" of the Catalan parliament.

Now, a majority of the Catalan parliament will also be behind him following a vote in the chamber on Tuesday.

When the December ruling was issued, parliament speaker Laura Borràs opted against taking action to remove Juvillà, who is also a parliament bureau member, from the chamber until the Supreme Court rules on the appeal.

Chamber reactions

Cs spokesman Nacho Martín Blanco said that his group will denounce the vote to the electoral board, which he described as "disobedience" and a form of "martingale," essentially meaning to do something to hide the truth with the only purpose of lying.

"The only thing Borràs should do is withdraw his seat and from there Juvillà can defend himself. Don't make all Catalans pay for the appeal to the Supreme Court for the third deputy of the parliament bureau," Blanco added.

CUP MP Montserrat Vinyets pointed out that the chamber did not vote on any judicial decisions, but rather on an "administrative act" of the electoral board. “Don’t say we’re doing a martingale, because we’re doing something reasonable,” she added.

Vinyets, therefore, believes that there is "no disobedience to any court" but a "conflict of sovereignty and authority." 

JxCat and ERC spokespeople, Mònica Sales and Marta Vilalta, also defended Juvillà in the face of what they described as a "new repressive manoeuvre."

Vilalta also replied to Cs that they are not martingales but that Parliament uses "the tools of the legal system" to defend itself against "obsessive persecution".

 

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. 

 

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  • CUP MP Pau Juvillà in Lleida (by Laura Cortés)

  • CUP MP Pau Juvillà in Lleida (by Laura Cortés)

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