Spain threatens legal action if MPs in Brussels get to vote remotely in Catalan chamber
Interim bureau to face vote by proxy debate in opening session of Parliament on Wednesday
The Spanish government has warned that should the five Catalan MPs in Brussels be allowed to vote in Wednesday’s opening session of the Catalan Parliament, it will immediately challenge their right to do so in Spain’s Constitutional Court (TC in Spanish).
The first parliamentary session of the new political term begins on Wednesday, January 17, starting with the appointment of a new chamber bureau. In order to launch the session, an interim bureau will be formed with the eldest and the two youngest MPs. They will be the ones deciding on the issue. But if they accept a vote by proxy for the representatives in the Belgian capital, the Spanish government insists it will make an appeal to the court.
As for the three Catalan MPs who are still in prison charged with sedition and rebellion (Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Sànchez, and Joaquim Forn) the Spanish government says it will wait to see what formula the Parliament chooses to allow their votes before considering a legal challenge.
A Supreme Court judge last week dismissed a request by Junqueras to be allowed to attend the session, but also left it up to the Parliament bureau to decide whether the jailed MPs should be allowed to vote via a representative. Yet, this ruling only applied to the imprisoned MPs.
The Spanish government’s aim is to prevent the MPs in Brussels, whose votes are needed for the pro-independence parliamentary majority, from influencing the voting; particularly, in the election of a president, with Carles Puigdemont hoping to be sworn in at a distance or through a representative.
Talking to journalists on Tuesday, Spanish president Mariano Rajoy said that he considered Puigdemont to be the “worst” choice for president, and he also said that electing Junqueras or any other MP involved in legal proceedings is a “bad option”.
With Parliament set to open on Wednesday, ERC MP Roger Torrent is likely to be appointed Parliament president, along with a chamber bureau. The first session to elect a president needs to be held by January 31, with the final deadline to appoint a president set for the end of March. Should Parliament fail to elect a president, a new election would be called.