Rajoy takes the Catalan consultation vote to the Constitutional Court, which is holding an early meeting
The Spanish Government held an extraordinary meeting this Monday morning to approve the appeals against the Catalan Law on Consultation Votes and the decree calling the 9th of November consultation vote. The Spanish PM, Mariano Rajoy, considered the Catalan measures to be "antidemocratic" and "an attempt against the rights of all Spaniards". The appeals were filed at 1:15 pm and, after this, the Constitutional Court announced it was holding an extraordinary meeting at 6:30 pm, instead of waiting until the next regular meeting, scheduled for the 7th of October. Furthermore, the Spanish Government's main advisory body, the Council of State, gave their recommendation on Sunday evening to file the appeals. Such a recommendation came after the Spanish Government asked for it on Saturday morning, the first time in Spain's democratic history that such a body reacted so quickly. The Catalan Government advised Rajoy and the Constitutional Court to be very careful with their decisions, as they could make "the greatest mistake in Spain's democracy".
Barcelona (ACN).- The Spanish Government Cabinet held an extraordinary meeting this Monday morning in order to approve the two appeals against the Catalan Law on Consultation Votes and the decree calling for the 9th of November consultation vote on Catalonia's political future, instead of waiting until Friday's regular meeting. The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, considered the Catalan measures to be "antidemocratic" and "to attempt against the rights of all Spaniards". The appeals have been filed at the Constitutional Court on Monday at 1:15 pm and, immediately after this, this body announced it was holding an extraordinary meeting at 6:30 pm to decide whether it accepts them, instead of waiting until the next regular meeting, scheduled for the 7th of October. The acceptance of the appeals, which has to be decided in a Constitutional Court's plenary session, would mean the automatic temporary suspension of the Catalan measures until the Court issues a definitive verdict or decides to lift this cautionary measure. Furthermore, the Spanish Government's main advisory body, the Council of State, gave their recommendation on Sunday evening to file the appeals. Such a recommendation came after the Spanish Government asked for it on Saturday morning, just after the Catalan measures entered into force. It is the first time in Spain's democratic history that the Council of State reacted so quickly and it is also extremely unusual for the Constitutional Court to hold an extraordinary plenary session over whether or not to accept an appeal and even more extraordinary to do so in such an urgent way. On Monday morning, before the Spanish Government approved the two appeals, the Spokesperson for the Catalan Executive and Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs advised Rajoy and the Constitutional Court to be "very careful" with their decisions, as they could make "the greatest mistake in Spain's democracy".
The Spanish Government has reacted as expected and it has filed two appeals at the Constitutional Court against the Law on Consultation Votes, approved by the Catalan Parliament with an 80% support, and the decree based on this law calling a self-determination consultation vote on the 9th of November, which was signed on Saturday morning. Mariano Rajoy himself has held an extremely unusual press conference to announce the decision, which has also been approved an exceptional Cabinet Meeting, organised 4 days earlier than usual. Rajoy, who only faced 3 questions – none of which asked about his no-to-everything attitude and his responsibility for the current situation, did not wait for the Constitutional Court's verdict and stated that the measures approved in Catalonia were "unconstitutional" and "antidemocratic". Rajoy said they are "a severe attack" against "the unity of Spain" and "the rights of all Spaniards", insisting on the "indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation". He stressed that "national sovereignty belongs to all the Spaniards", "to the Spanish people as a whole" and that a part of it – Catalonia – cannot decide for everybody.
Rajoy ignores Catalonia's nationhood
Therefore, Rajoy does not consider that Catalans have the right to decide on their own collective future, because he does not consider Catalonia to be a nation and to be sovereign. In fact, the full recognition of Catalonia's nationhood is at the core of the problem, since the 1978 Spanish Constitution partially recognises it when it states in Article 2 that Spain is formed of "nationalities and regions". This formula was a compromise during the transition to democracy with the forces of Franco's Spanish nationalist and military dictatorship in order not to derail the process and to partially recognise Catalonia's nationhood status. In order to balance this, the military imposed the inclusion of the "indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation" expression. Catalans massively voted for the Constitution with the implicit promise that, once democracy was consolidated in Spain, Catalonia's nationhood would finally be fully recognised. However, the opposite has happened. In 2010, the Constitutional Court emphasised the "indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation" in its verdict against the Catalan Statute of Autonomy, which outraged Catalans. In addition, Rajoy referred solely to this expression that was imposed in 1978 by the most reactive sector of Franco's military dictatorship but has ignored that Spain is "formed of nationalities and regions", therefore ignoring Spain's plurinational nature.
Rajoy has already decided the Catalan measures are unconstitutional
According to Rajoy, the Catalan Government asking the opinion of Catalans citizens on Catalonia's political future through a non-binding consultation vote is "not compatible with the Constitution". The Spanish PM stated up to 10 times that the Law on Consultation Votes and the 9th of November vote were "unconstitutional", without waiting for the Constitutional Court's verdict on the issue. In fact, the Spanish Government has been saying the same for the last few months and it already announced in early September that the appeals against the Catalan measures were "ready", despite the fact that the Catalan Parliament had not yet approved the law and that the Catalan President had not signed the decree and therefore its exact wording was unknown.
The Catalan measures are "harming the rights of all Spaniards"
Rajoy stated that it is "false" and "demagogical" to say that "the right to vote and decide" can be "unilaterally" used by an Autonomous Community – Catalonia – and "denied to the rest of the nation". "It is demagogical to refer to something that sounds good, such as the right to express oneself or to be heard", he said. "The problem is that who are putting these arguments upfront are actually denying this right to those who are legally entitled to use it, which is the whole of the Spanish people", Rajoy added. The Spanish PM accused the President of the Catalan Government "of stealing from the rest of Spaniards" their "right" to decide on Spain's destiny. According to Rajoy, the Spanish Government cannot do anything but file these appeals, since it cannot trade with "the national sovereignty", which "belongs to all the Spanish people as a whole".
Rajoy says he is "open to talk, but always within the law"
The Spanish PM stated that "there is still time" to honour the law and obey the Constitutional Court's verdict – which at the time has not decided to even accept the Spanish Government's appeals since they had not even been filed. He insisted that the Spanish Government is "defending the Law, which it is not a restriction against freedom but a guarantee of equality and security for all". "Contrasting the law and democracy is unacceptable", because "there is no democracy without laws, neither is there respect for the citizens or for politics". Rajoy said that "the Law is the expression of the majority's expression" and that "the Constitution can be changed", but using the foreseen mechanisms. However, he did not say that in those two years he has been blocking any debate on reforming the Constitution. Paradoxically, Rajoy said that he is always "willing to talk" and "open to set a dialogue", but "always within the Law".
Rajoy accused the Catalan Government of "carrying out a policy of accomplished facts", by "unilaterally" adopting a series of decisions towards the organisation of the self-determination vote without the approval of the Spanish Government. The Spanish PM presented the facts as the Spanish Government always being willing to talk but the Catalan authorities carrying out their own agenda and later on "·pretending that the Spanish Government will be forced to find a solution to unilateral decisions which are impossible to share". However, he also admitted that "there has never been a real possibility" to reach an agreement with the Catalan Government. "When a part goes against the legal framework and the interests of all, it cannot be the [Spanish] Government's duty to find a half-way point for reaching an agreement", Rajoy added.
Finally, he stated that the Catalan President will be "the person in charge" of the consequences of this process, which are "the unfair delegitimisation of democratic institutions and breaking the fraternity bonds that have united Catalonia and the rest of Spain during all our common history". In addition, the current situation will bring a great "frustration" to "a part of Catalonia's citizens, who have been encouraged to participate in an initiative that cannot see the light, because it is illegal".
The Catalan Government warns against making "the greatest mistake in Spain's democracy"
A few hours before the Spanish Government was to file the two appeals, the Catalan Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, warned Rajoy that this action would a "major political error", which will strengthen the self-determination process. Homs said that with the temporary suspension of the Catalan law and decree, "the game will not be over", on the contrary. Those supporting independence will be more convinced, according to the Catalan Minister. He advised the Spanish Government and the Constitutional Court to be extremely "careful" with their decisions, as they risk making "the greatest mistake in Spain's democracy".