Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spain's Constitutional Court suspends Catalonia's Declaration of Sovereignty

Originally published in VilaWeb on May 8, 2013

The State's Attorney General appealed the Declaration considering it an “open challenge to the constitution with political and judicial ramifications”

The Spanish Constitutional Court has suspended the Declaration of Sovereignty approved by the Parliament of Catalonia last January 23, and has agreed to hear the appeal of the Spanish Government. It’s the first time in the history of the democracy of the Spanish State that it has suspended a parliamentary declaration.

The consequences of the decision are not yet clear, since it might also effect legislation based on the declaration, like for example, the creation of the National Transition Advisory Council.

Now the Constitutional Court has five months—beginning from March 8, when the appeal was presented—to completely analyze the matter and decide if it will declare the declaration unconstitutional.

The appeal of the attorney general emphasizes the fact that the Catalan people cannot be a sovereign political or judicial subject and that, in any case, the sovereignty to decide on a hypothetical secession resides in the whole of the Spanish people. According to the attorney general's appeal, the Declaration of Sovereignty approved by the Parliament is an “open challenge to the constitution” which “has political and judicial ramifications”. For the attorney general, that the Catalan people be defined as a “sovereign political and judicial subject” is “neither more nor less than an act of constituent power” which attributes the right to secession to the Catalan people.

The Parliament is preparing its defense 

The president of the Parliament, Núria de Gispert, announced that she has already ordered the legal services of the Catalan chamber to prepare the brief of the pleadings, which must be presented within twenty days. De Gispert qualified the decision as unusual, and noted that it doesn't make any “judicial sense” bringing a political declaration to the Constitutional Court. “We have never before had a proposed resolution, that has the meaning that it has, that comes from a political initiative, that is a political declaration; we have never before had a proposed resolution appealed before,” the president said. She has called for a meeting of the Board of Speakers on Thursday morning. 

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