President Montilla appears before Senate to ask for Constitutional Court reforms

Head of Catalan Government demands ?respect? for Catalonia and warns of rupture with Spain

Laura Matalonga

May 24, 2010 07:57 PM

José Montilla, President of the Catalan Government, appeared before the Spanish Senate to demand the legal renewal of the Constitutional Court, which has been pending and blocked since 2007. Three out of twelve magistrates have already surpassed three years over their nine-year mandate and the forth magistrate passed away two years ago. The Catalan President also asked for a reform of the Organic Law ruling the Constitutional Court.
President Montilla spoke before the Upper House, which in theory represents the Spanish autonomous regions. He pointed out that Catalonia is not asking for a change in the rules, but to respect them and renew the Constitutional Court, functioning since three years ago in an anomalous situation. He stated that the lack of interest in doing so could turn into profound frustration. Montilla appeared with the numbers two and three of his government, Vice-President, Josep-Lluís Carod-Rovira, and Home Affairs Minister, Joan Saura.

The Constitutional Court has to be formed by twelve magistrates appointed for non-renewable nine years. However, the partial renovation of the Court that took place in 2007 was blocked by the impossibility of two main Spanish parties, the Socialist Party (in power) and the Conservative Party (opposition), to reach an agreement. Since then, three magistrates had their mandate extended de facto despite the fact that neither the Constitution nor the Organic law specifically talk about this possibility. Besides, another magistrate passed away two years ago and another one was put aside from the sentence about the Catalan Statute by the People’s Party. Furthermore, next November four magistrates will also end their mandate. The Constitutional Court has been discussing this sentence for four years, even though the Statute of Autonomy entered into force after completing all the Constitutional processes, namely being approved by both the Catalan and the Spanish Parliaments and passing a referendum by the Catalan people.

Josep María Pelegrí of the centre-right Catalan Nationalist Party (Convergència i Unió) regretted that Montilla did not rightly defend the modification of the Organic Law ruling the functioning of the Constitutional Court. Pelegrí also added that if the Spanish Socialist Party, which includes the Catalan Socialist Party headed by Montilla, does not reach an agreement with the opposition, the right-wing Peoples' Party, the restructuring of the Constitutional Court will not be possible. He stated that it is the job of the governing Socialist Party to convince the opposition to make these changes.