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Spain’s Constitutional Court makes no concessions to Catalonia over referendum bill

Judges turn down appeal to reconsider suspension of a ruling enabling pro-independence parties to pass laws on a single reading


17 August 2017 01:22 PM


Guifré Jordan | Barcelona

The Spanish Constitutional Court is not willing to make any concessions to Catalonia over the referendum on independence planned for October 1. Even if that means that its judges have to interrupt their summer break. That is what they did on Wednesday in a rare mid-August meeting, in which they turned down an appeal by Catalonia to reconsider the suspension of a ruling which would have enabled political parties to pass the referendum bill after a single reading.

Indeed, they are ready to meet again any time from now on as soon as the Catalan Parliament takes more steps towards the vote on October 1. Although the Spanish government must first lodge an appeal to the court, this can be taken for granted, as its president and ministers have made it clear they're willing to interrupt their holidays to do so.

What the Constitutional Court has suspended

The Catalan pro-independence lawmakers had passed a Parliament reform in late July allowing bills presented by parties to be approved after a single reading. This movement was understood as a maneuver to pass the referendum law, which is essential for providing the referendum on independence with a legal framework, without giving Spain time to suspend it while the proceedings are under way. However, the Constitutional Court provisionally suspended the Parliament reform on July 31 and, despite Catalonia’s motion to reconsider this ruling, the judges confirmed their decision on Wednesday. 

  • "The Constitutional Court's ruling is for political reasons and not legal ones"

    Lluís Corominas · Pro-independence Junts pel Sí coalition leader

The Court did nothing more than admit the appeal by the Spanish government on July 31, but this means that the reform was automatically suspended for at least five months until a final decision was made. Meanwhile, the judges also warned the Catalan Parliament Bureau the same day that if they admitted the referendum bill for processing by the chamber, they might face criminal charges.

How the referendum bill will be passed is uncertain

The pro-independence-controlled Bureau is willing to admit the bill, but its members postponed the decision on Wednesday. They will still have to face the issue in the coming days but it is still uncertain how the law will be passed in the chamber, now that the single reading regulation has been suspended.

“The paths leading to approval of the referendum law are all still absolutely open,” said Lluís Corominas, one of the leaders of independence coalition Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes) on Wednesday evening. “There are different mechanisms and initiatives with which a bill can be processed,” he added to ACN without revealing which one they will choose.

The law in Spain “is not the same for all” claims Catalan government

Corominas stated that the latest Constitutional Court’s suspension came as no surprise because the ruling was issued “for political reasons and not legal ones”. The Junts pel Sí coalition and the Catalan government noted over the past few days that 14 regional parliaments as well as the lower and upper Spanish chambers all have the same regulation concerning single reading procedures and no one has challenged it. The law “is not the same for all,” said the minister of the presidency, Jordi Turull, on Wednesday in reaction to the Court’s dismissal of the Catalan executive’s appeal.






  • The Spanish Constitutional Court (by ACN)

  • The Spanish Constitutional Court (by ACN)