Supreme Court forces Barcelona City Council to bring back image of the king in assembly hall

Colau removed the bust of Juan Carlos I in 2015

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Municipal workers removing the bust of Joan Carles I from the plenary hall of the Barcelona City Council

BarcelonaBarcelona City Council's meetings will have to be held with an image of Felipe VI in the room. This has been confirmed by the Supreme Court after in 2015 mayor Ada Colau removed a bust of Juan Carlos I. "In a preferential place of the hall of sessions there will be placed the effigy of His Majesty the King". Article 85.2 of the Regulation of Organisation, Functioning and Legal Regime of Local Entities made clear already in 1986 that all the city councils had to have a photograph, bust or statue of Juan Carlos I in the plenary room and, in addition, in a privileged place. This is how it was placed in the Barcelona City Council: just above the chair where the mayoress sits, so that it was above the head of the municipal leader. And in this way the successive mayors were photographed, whether they were PSC or CiU.

With the arrival of Colau, however, things changed: on July 23, 2015 municipal workers removed the bust of Juan Carlos I and the city council justified itself saying the king, who had abdicated a year earlier, was no longer the Spanish monarch and, therefore, they did not have to keep a statue of him. The next day there was already a photograph of his successor, Felipe VI, in the hall, although only momentarily: PP councillors placed it there to denounce Colau's executive move the previous day. The image, however, was removed before the plenary session began. Colau's next step was to modify the regulations to try to make the move to remove the image of the king legitimate. In December 2015, Article 75.2 of the municipal regulations went on to say that "the representation of symbolic and institutional elements present permanently in the hall of sessions must respond to the historical uniqueness and capital of Barcelona and the democratic principles of religious neutrality and Catalanness", and "its approval corresponds to the plenary of the municipal council, by means of an agreement adopted by a majority of 2/3 of its members".

Alberto Fernández Díaz placing a portrait of Felipe VI to fill the space left by the bust of Juan Carlos I removed by the mayor's team.

However, it did not end here. A year after these events, the conflict reached the courts: the Delegation of the Spanish government in Catalonia -then led by the PP- filed an appeal and a judge ruled that the city council had to place an image of Felipe VI in the hall. The City Council, however, wanted to go all the way and filed an appeal to the Catalonia's High Court, which rejected it, and they tried again in the last instance, the Supreme Court, which on Tuesday rejected the appeal and has again urged the consistory to place an image of the king.

This will mean that six years later there will again be an image of the king in Barcelona City Hall. The Supreme Court upheld previous findings, citing Article 85.2 of the Regulations of Local Authorities to conclude that it is mandatory that there is an effigy of the monarch in the plenary hall. The high court adds that, although an article of the regulation of the same consistory states that the placement of a symbol has to be approved by a majority in the plenary, the law of 1986 is of a higher rank and, therefore, regardless of council regulations, has to be complied with.