Spain’s Constitutional Court won’t give the Catalan process a break
Last Thursday the Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) ruled against Catalonia’s statehood structures, which the Catalan government had been focusing on
Last Thursday the Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) ruled against Catalonia’s statehood structures, which the Catalan government had been focusing on. The court’s decision was unanimous, without any cracks. Once again, Spain’s highest court of law continues to play a central role as the key institution responsible for thwarting the Catalan efforts by legal means when, in a mature democracy, such differences would actually be resolved politically. Alas, Spain’s politicos abjured their duty to take action in order to resolve the feud with Catalonia a long time ago. They chose, instead, to ignore the persistent will of Catalan society to freely decide its own future, a determination that has been expressed at the polls uncontestedly and supported in the streets peacefully.
The court’s ruling —which strikes down Catalonia’s IRS, the Catalan Meteorological Service and even the strategic plans for energy and infrastructures— comes a year after Mariano Rajoy’s government filed a formal complaint against the Catalan complementary budget bill, which included a number of tax and administrative steps aimed at preparing a future political disconnection from Spain. The measures had been agreed upon by CDC and ERC, and the Catalan parliament had approved them in March 2015.
The ruling is as unsurprising as it is relevant. It confirms that the State’s apparatus refuses to give the Catalan process a break. In the aftermath of a Spanish election whose outcome has pushed back any chance of a real change in Spain, the court’s decision means that a political solution is even more remote. At the same time, it becomes a test for the Catalan government and its precarious parliamentary backing, who will need to find a way to forge ahead with the creation of statehood structures as laid out in the complex independence road map.
On this latter point, the strategy that the Puigdemont administration intends to follow after the latest blow by the TC is the same it used when the TC recently vetoed the Catalan Foreign Affairs ministry: to stay the course but change its name, as Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo denounced in an internal report which this newspaper had access to.
At any rate, nothing has changed. Rather than facing Catalonia’s social and political reality, the Spanish State prefers to keep playing cat and mouse in a court of law from a position of strength, a game that will hardly lead to a solution, even though it certainly gets in the way of the Catalan independence process.