Thursday, March 27, 2014

No Tribunal Shall Suspend the Sovereignty of Catalonia

The Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) has unanimously rejected the declaration of sovereignty passed by the Catalan Parliament on January 23, 2013. The court partially accepted the appeal brought by the Spanish Government.
It considers the first point to be "null and inconstitutional": "Sovereignty. The Catalan people have, by reason of democratic legitimacy, political and legal sovereignty. According to the judges, the text violates Articles 1.2 and 2 of the Spanish Constitution and Articles 1 and 2.4 of the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia. But it does not find the reference to Catalonia's right to decide within a legal framework unconstitutional. The Spanish Government presented an appeal of unconstitutionality to the court because it considers the declaration, beyond its political value, to have legal standing.
On the other hand, the Court declared that the references to the "right to decide of the citizens of Catalonia" are constitutional because they can be interpreted in conformance with the constitution since, according to the ruling, they don't consecrate a right of self-determination not recognized in the constitution, but rather a political desire that can only be achieved through a process that is adjusted to the constitutional legality with respect to the principles of "democratic legitimacy", "pluralism" and "legality".
The Spanish Government had put a lot of pressure these last few months in order to get a ruling against the declaration. The Vice President of the Spanish Government, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría said that the declaration had to be annulled because in addition to having "legal standing", it had "very clear effects on the consequent declarations with respect to the title of sovereignty, which corresponds to the whole of the Spanish people".
It is the first time in the history of the democracy of the Spanish State that a declaration of a parliament has been suspended. In fact, the Constitutional Court had already preliminarily suspended a declaration of the Catalan Parliament in May of last year, when the Spanish Government brought an appeal.
Now it will have to be seen what consequences can be derived from the definitive suspension of the declaration, since the other decisions that come out of it could also be suspended, like for example the creation of the National Transition Advisory Council.
The appeal from the Attorney General put emphasis on the fact that the Catalan people could not be a "sovereign political and legal subject", and that, in any case, the sovereignty for deciding on a hypothetical secession belonged to the whole of the Spanish people. According to the Attorney General's brief, the declaration of sovereignty approved by the Catalan Parliament is an "open challenge to the constitution" with "political and legal ramifications". For the Attorney General, that the Catalan people be defined as a "sovereign political and legal subject" is "no more and no less than an act of constituent power" which gives the Catalan people the right of secession.

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