19/01/2021

Overturning the election postponement would be foolish

2 min
La portaveu del Govern, Meritxell Budó, i el vicepresident, Pere Aragonès.

BarcelonaCatalonia's High Court's decision to uphold the preventive measures requested by a private individual who lodged an appeal against the decree postponing the elections from 14th February to 30th May has once again left the election date in a state of limbo that is completely incomprehensible to the general public. We hope that this is only a technical decision, since the court has not gone into the substance of the matter, and that in a few days, and in accordance with the Catalan government's legal services, the appeals will be rejected and the postponement made effective once again. Any other scenario would be a folly.

It is paradoxical that while the majority of regions are asking the Spanish government to ammend the state of alarm in order to allow them to advance the curfew in the face of the uncontrolled advance of the pandemic, the justice system is forcing the holding of elections in a situation of extreme health risk. Unfortunately, in recent months there has been no political will in the Spanish Parliament to introduce changes in the electoral laws that would minimise the risk of holding an election (extending voting days, introducing mobile ballot boxes, etc.), nor has the Catalan Parliament considered making a law of its own to widen the current legal framework as much as possible.

In this context, forcing citizens to leave their homes to go to the polls when everyone is being asked to stay home and reduce social interaction to a minimum would be irresponsible. To begin with, because many of these citizens would not consider it worth taking the risk and would therefore give up their right to vote. Furthermore, can a citizen be forced to work at a poll station when this poses an objective danger to their health? This is a judicial minefield.

But beyond the epidemiological arguments, it turns out that what Catalonia aims to do has been done before by two other regions, the Basque Country and Galicia, without any problem. It would not be understood, then, that Catalonia would not be allowed to take a similar decision. Moreover, it should be stressed that in the case of Catalonia, the government's term has not been exhausted, so that the interim Government would not be stretching its time in power, nor would it deprive citizens of their right to vote beyond what is provided for by law. It is clear that the decree would have to be legally impeccable, and this is what is expected of the Catalan administration's legal services.

It is surprising that the appeals against the postponement have not been presented by parties that are running in the elections but by others that are not, such as the Lliga Democràtica or Izquierda en Positivo, or by groups such as Federalistes d'Esquerres or Impulso Ciudadano, led by one of the founding members of Ciudadanos, José Domingo. This makes one suspect that there are party interests behind the move. And one more thing: we would not be here if the elections had been called when it was already known that President Torra would be disqualified. Because, in the end, it will be the judges who will decide.

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