Shiva Bhalla

Shiva Bhalla

Spain’s top court suspends Catalan Parliament’s upcoming session

October 5, 2017

Madrid: Spain`s Constitutional Court on Thursday announced it had preemptively suspended the Catalan Parliament`s upcoming plenary session in an attempt to thwart a unilateral declaration of independence by the region`s president.

The ruling from the highest rung of Spanish judiciary came just hours after Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said he was willing to use the plenary session, scheduled for Monday, to examine the full results of the October 1 referendum with a possible declaration of independence on the discussion table, Efe news agency reported.

The court agreed with the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), which lodged the case, that such a move would be “a breach of the Constitution” that would “annihilate” the rights of the regional parliament`s members.

Although Puigdemont did not explicitly set out a plan to declare independence on Monday, the left-wing Popular Unity Candidacy, which supports the President`s coalition Junts Pel Si in the regional parliament, insisted the act would indeed go ahead.

The PSC, which is the regional branch of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), Spain`s main opposition, argued that to permit the plenary session on Monday would be to ignore the fact that the Referendum Law, which Puigdemont unilaterally wrote into local legislation in early September, had been suspended as unconstitutional.

The Referendum Law, which was pushed through by JxS and paved the way to the referendum stated that if Catalonia voted in favor of secession from Spain, a declaration of independence would be made during a parliamentary session two days after the results were announced by the electoral committee.

Although ruled illegal by the Spanish courts, the referendum went ahead with the participation of 2.2 million people — 42 per cent of the Catalan electorate with over 90 per cent choosing independence in a ballot marked by irregularities amid Spanish police efforts to shut it down in line with judges` orders.

Anomalies in the electoral process included the ability to cast a ballot without a voting envelope, being able to vote in the street or being able to print the ballot paper off at home.

A huge Spanish police operation got underway ahead of the poll in an attempt to seize all referendum-related material and clashes with voters at polling stations left over 800 injured.

Earlier, in an interview with Efe, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told Puigdemont to immediately curtail his bid to declare independence unilaterally or face greater problems.