Puigdemont takes parliament bureau to court

Former president challenges resolution withdrawing his voting rights as MP

Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent (left) and former president Carles Puigdemont (by Blanca Blay)
Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent (left) and former president Carles Puigdemont (by Blanca Blay) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

January 22, 2019 12:42 PM

From exile in Belgium, former president Carles Puigdemont has launched a legal challenge against the decision by the Catalan parliament bureau to withdraw his ability to vote through a delegate.

Puigdemont's challenge in the Constitutional Court claims that the bureau's decision infringes his fundamental right to political participation, which is protected by the Spanish Constitution.

The former president lost his delegated vote after pro-independence ERC and unionist PSC parties -with the abstention of the opposition Cs party- reached an agreement on October 9, 2018, to withdraw the parliamentary privilege, following a Supreme Court ruling.

Puigdemont is accused of rebellion for his role in the independence bid, which led to a referendum and a declaration of independence despite Spain's opposition in 2017.

In his challenge, Puigdemont points out that before the bureau removed his delegated vote, he had used it from exile on various occasions, only some of which were contested and now awaiting a resolution by the Constitutional Court.

The former president also points out that a majority in Parliament voted not to suspend him as an MP on October 2, a resolution that was not challenged in court, and which led him two days later to ratify, by proxy, his intention to delegate his vote.

In mid-July, pro-independence parties struggled to agree on a united response to the suspension of prosecuted MPs. While ERC MPs accepted being replaced, Puigdemont and his Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) party colleagues stood in defiance. Consequently, pro-independence parties lost their parliamentary majority.

A spokesman for Puigdemont's Junts per Catalunya party, Eduard Pujol, played down the former president's legal challenge, arguing that it is a necessary procedure that is part of his efforts to have his case heard by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.