Politics 30/04/2021

Supreme Court confirms the Electoral Board could remove Quim Torra's seat without a final judgment

It rejects the appeal the Parliament's lawyers had presented

2 min
The president of the Generalitat, Quim Torra, applauded only by the deputies and councillors of JxCat.

BarcelonaThe Central Electoral Board (JEC) was able to leave Quim Torra without a seat on 3 January 2020, as confirmed on Friday by the fourth administrative contentious chamber of the Supreme Court. Torra lost his seat despite the fact that he did not have a final conviction (confirmed by the Supreme Court at the end of September) and that he continued to serve as president of the Generalitat for nine months. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal lodged by the Parliament, which argued that, without a final sentence, only the Catalan parliament can remove a deputy from his seat. Moreover, the appeal questioned the competence of the CEC to take such a decision, since it came outside the electoral process.

The court recognises the "legitimacy" of the Parliament to present the appeal (the lawyers of the PP and Vox, who are the ones who asked the JEC to remove Torra's seat, had opposed it), since it has been assessed precisely whether the Catalan chamber is the only one that can remove an MP's seat. The ruling concludes that "it is not an exclusive competence" of the parliamentary chamber and that the electoral administration can act in direct application of the organic law of the general electoral regime (LOREG). The law says that those who are ineligible are "those convicted by sentence, even if not final, for crimes of rebellion, terrorism, against public administration or against the institutions of the State when the sentence has established the penalty of disqualification for the exercise of passive suffrage or absolute or special disqualification or suspension for public office".

Torra, condemned to disqualification for disobedience, fell within the cases provided for in the LOREG, which also specifies that the causes of ineligibility are incompatibility. And to the JEC is attributed the competence to enforce the electoral law. "The full use of political rights means not having been subject to absolute disqualification or special disqualification that are linked to certain crimes as an accessory or main penalty", stresses the Supreme Court.

A president without a seat

The withdrawal of the seat of the then president of the Generalitat provoked an open confrontation between Torra and the then president of the Parliament, Roger Torrent. Torra held Torrent directly responsible for complying with the resolution of the JEC. However, the loss of the seat did not affect his powers as head of the executive (only the power to vote in Parliament). The Statute of Catalonia states that the president of the Generalitat can only be chosen from among the Parliamentary MPs, and this was one of the allegations made by the lawyers of the chamber when they presented the appeal to the Supreme Court.

The facts have already shown that it is not necessary for a president of the Government to be a member of parliament if he loses this status during his term of office. Torra was completely disqualified on 28 September, the day on which the countdown to replace him as president began. Seven months later, no successor has yet been found.

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