February 11, 2013
In changing strategy, Spanish government’s announcement takes base on a juridical rapport made by the Attorney Office that points out dubiouos constitutionality
Given the great proportions of the political and social scandal caused by the last corruption affair, known as “Rajoy & Bárcenas papers”, which casts a huge dark of shadow on the honesty of PP political leaders, Spain cabinet is trying now to cover it all up by waving the flag of patriotism and national pride, which has always proved to be the best way of getting great social consensus and joining both right and left sides of Spain nationalism, and go straightforward, once again, against Catalonia. That’s the context in which the PP government has finally decided to send Catalonia’s Declaration of Sovereignty to the Spain Constitutional Court.
The Declaration of Sovereignty made by Catalan Parliament may convey some points of dubious constitutionality according to the juridical rapport from the Ministry of Justice asked by Spanish central government. The State Office of Law asserts that such Declaration breaks articles 1, 2, 9 and 168 of the Spain Constitution.
Spain’s Vice-president of government, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, explained that according to the rapport conclusions, they have now legal reasons as to make advisable lodging an appeal of unconstitutionality against the Declaration of Sovereignty which was approved last January by the Parliament of Catalonia. The rapport specifically argues that “recognition of Catalonia’s sovereignty by accepting that the Catalan people has the right to decide their future as a juridical and political subject would break several articles of the Spanish Constitution”.
Such broken articles would be the following ones:
– No.1 establishing that national sovereignty belongs with the Spain people as a whole.
– No.2 speaking of Spain’s unity as common nation and indivisible homeland for all Spanish citizens.
– No.9 by which all political powers, no matter their territorial level, are submitted to the Constitution itself.
– No.168 which specifies the legal procedures to amend the Constitution.
The rapport is divided into two different parts. In the second one authors assert that Catalonia’s Declaration should be sent to the Constitutional Court because of its “ad extra” juridical effects since it would drive Catalan self government institutions towards certain political aims which are “clearly unconstitutional”. Also a comparison is established between the Declaration and the Basque “Plan Ibarretxe” to point out some differences. The last one was just considered by the Spanish government as the “starting proceedings” of an intended legislative process whereas the present Catalan Declaration of Sovereignty is seen as “an approved resolution with juridical effects”. Sáenz de Santamaría said the State Office of Law has given “accurate foundation” as to lodge an appeal against such Declaration.
Council of State is first
The rapport sent by the Ministry of Justice was discussed at the Council of Ministers. The cabinet of Mariano Rajoy decided to send it first to the Council of State as a necessary and compulsory step prior to lodging an appeal to the Constitutional Court. The vice-president said, though, that the final decision on the appeal had not already been settled. Sáenz de Santamaría admitted, anyway, that “the rapport is of great value in order to determine the government’s position”. After recalling that Council of State rapports are not biding ones, she added “despite we would like them to be so”.
Spain government has therefore changed its strategy with respect to Catalonia’s Declaration of Sovereignty. Initially they said that it was nothing but useless according to its President Mariano Rajoy’s own words. And the Minister of Foreing Affairs, José Manuel García-Margallo, did not see either any juridical effect in it. Later on the Interior Minister, Jorge Fernández Díaz, was asking for some time to analyze it. Finally, the cabinet asked the State Office of Law for a juridical rapport which would most probably end up at the premises of the Constitutional Court. But most people here are convinced that the serious political turmoil caused by corruption “Bàrcenas case” has much to do with it too.