Spanish court will be able to suspend public servants who don’t comply with its rulings
The reform for the Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) to be able to “suspend from office those public servants, politicians and authorities who don’t comply with its rulings” has been ultimately accepted by 8 of the 11 magistrates in the Court. The reform proposal was announced in September 2015 by the governing People's Party (PP) leader in Catalonia, Xavier García Albiol, and was approved as a matter of urgency with only the PP’s support. Albiol stated then that this amendment to the Constitutional Law would work as a barrier to dissuade “anybody from declaring Catalonia’s independence”. The reform foreseesfines for not adhering to the TC’s rulings that range from 3,000 to 30,000 euros and could ultimately lead to “suspension from office during the period of time required by the TC”.
Barcelona (CNA).- The Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) backed this Thursday the Spanish Government’s decision to reform the law in order to “suspend from office those public servants, politicians and authorities who don’t comply with the TC’s rulings”. Eight magistrates voted in favour of the reform, promoted and approved in October 2015 by the governing People’s Party (PP), while 3 of them voted against it. The fines for not adhering to the TC’s rulings range from 3,000 to 30,000 euros and could ultimately lead to “suspension from office during the period of time required by the TC”. The reform proposal was first announced by the PP leader in Catalonia, Xavier García Albiol, and was approved as a matter of urgency. Albiol stated that this amendment to the Constitutional Law would work as a barrier to dissuade “anybody from declaring Catalonia’s independence”.
This Thursday’s resolution rejects the appeals presented by the Catalan Government first and by the Basque Government later, which believe the reform of the TC to be unconstitutional. According to the magistrates, the reform promoted and approved by the PP has a legal and constitutional basis and therefore the foreseen measures are ready to become effective. Thus, “those public servants, politicians and authorities who don’t comply with the TC’s rulings” could be fined from 3,000 to 30,000 euros. The maximum sentence is “to suspend from their functions those authorities or public servants of the corresponding administration during the period of time which the TC would estimate necessary for the Court’s statements to be accurately analysed”.
However, this time the TC’s decision didn’t meet with the usual consensus and has proved a rupture within the institution’s core. Judges Adela Asúa, who is Basque, Catalan Juan Antonio Xiol and progressive Fernando Valdés Dal-Re voted against the reform.
The first name which could be affected by this reform is the Parliament’s President, Carme Forcadell. Indeed, the TC stated that it will not resolve on the accusation of disobedience that is pending over her for allowing the pro-independence process to be put to vote before the TC’s reform has been confirmed. However, the magistrates opted to use another mechanism and called for the Public Prosecutor to charge her, so that the TC can avoid having to interfere. However, Carles Puigdemont’s proposal to hold “either a referendum or a referendum” could be the next question to be discussed by the TC and ultimately lead to the first suspensions of public servants.
Romeva laments Spain’s “lack of separation of powers”
Catalan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Raül Romeva, commented on the TC’s decision and lamented Spain’s “lack of separation of powers”. According to Romeva, the reform contributes to “mining the confidence” between Catalan citizens and the Spanish institutions and considered “really worrying” the measures foreseen in the reform, regardless of whom they aim to suspend. “If we can find a solution to this, we will be heading towards an extremely grave situation” stated Romeva and called for tackling the reform of the TC “from a political perspective and with democratic logic”.
ANC considers the TC to now have “attributes unworthy” of a democracy
The president of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), Jordi Sánchez, claimed that the reform gives the TC “attributes unworthy of a democracy”. He stated that “the door to a suspension from office ‘express’ has been opened” and called for participation in the demonstration against the judicialisation of politics scheduled for the 13th of November in Barcelona. “Now it is the time to defend democracy, to defend our institutions and all the elected representatives who are currently being investigated for freely exercising the mandate emerged at the ballot boxes”, he stated.
Express reform approved within 45 days
PP’s leader in Catalonia, Xavier García Albiol, was the promoter of the reform. He presented the proposal in September 2015 as a barrier "to dissuade anybody from declaring Catalonia’s independence”. Before the previous term of office came to an end, Spain’s executive approved the reform within 45 days as a matter of urgency and with only the support of the PP.
The entire opposition described the reform as "an electoral act" and accused PP of "manipulating the Spanish Justice with political motivations".
Catalan President at that time, Artur Mas, warned that the reform will “destroy the rule of law” and admitted to seeing himself as one of the PP’s proposal targets for disobeying the TC in November 2014 and co-organising the 9-N symbolic vote on independence.
Later on, four other Catalan ministers were summonsed for this and other cases, with Parliament’s President, Carme Forcadell, being the last to be in the spotlight for allowing the pro-independence roadmap to be put to vote in the Catalan Chamber.