Two points and a vote in Parliament: the Speaker's proposal for disobedience

The proposal was not to fill the vacancies left by MPs stripped of their seat and to involve the Catalan Government

3 min
Laura Borràs during Tuesday's plenary session of Parliament

BarcelonaThat Pau Juvillà no longer has a seat in Parliament is the only absolute truth of the first disqualification of an MP during the current Catalan legislature. In spite of the speeches, the promises, the appearances without questions and the votes in the plenary and in the Statute of the Deputies commission, the pro-independence movement has not managed to keep the seat before the interference of the Central Electoral Board (JEC), which has imposed its executive power over the chamber's regulations. Speaker Laura Borràs explained last Monday to RAC1 that she had made a proposal of collective disobedience that had not been accepted by ERC and CUP. She did not want to give more details, despite public requests for information from all other parliamentary groups. ARA has had access to the Speaker's last proposal to pro-independence parties: it is a brief text with only two generic points that had to be validated. First, the parliamentary Bureau would have to process it and the Parliament could have a vote. JxCat, ERC and the CUP's votes would be enough to get it passed. This is the proposal:

  1. "Disobedience to any future disqualification will be maintained. All groups undertake not to eventually cover vacancies due to disqualification, without prejudice to the right of MPs to voluntarily resign their seat."
  2. "The Government commits to obeying Parliament even against judicial or administrative resolutions."

JxCat proposed that the formalisation of these two points be specified in a "public and signed commitment by the three parties" to respect them through a motion for a resolution that would be taken to the plenary. The pro-independence majority in the Bureau would have to admit the proposal. Sources from the Speakership consulted by ARA prefer not to assess the content of the negotiations – neither this document in particular – and refer to Borràs's words on Monday. She stressed that she "did not want" to defend Juvillà's seat and admitted having asked Generalitat president Pere Aragonès that the executive also disobey, for example by disregarding the ruling dictating 25% of classes in schools be in Spanish. In the document presented to ERC and the CUP there is no trace of this proposal, nor are there any details on what exactly is the disobedience that the Government would have to assume. In several public appearances since Monday, several ERC representatives in the Generalitat have defended the separation of powers and have stood by the Speaker in everything that Parliament would end up agreeing.

The document also does not resolve whether the votes of the disqualified MPs would have been counted or not. In fact, on Thursday it was Borràs herself who rejected Juvillà's vote by proxy, although she argued that she did so to avoid a conflict of interest. If it were only a matter of not replacing disqualified MPs, pro-independence parties would have lost seats, despite the fact that they no longer act as a bloc in most votes, with the CUP acting as opposition to the executive. There is at least one more CUP MP awaitong trial –Eulàlia Reguant– and two more ERC MPs –Lluís Salvadó and Josep Maria Jové– for issues related to the Independence Bid.

A job done in a hurry

In a few weeks, JxCat, ERC and the CUP wanted to get done quickly what they failed to do since 14-F. Then they already knew that Pau Juvillà would go to trial and that, taking into account the precedents, it was likely that he would end up being disqualified. This was not an impediment for the Speaker herself to guarantee that the CUP MP would not lose his seat until there was a final sentence, as established by the chamber's rules. The discourse was modulated as the days went by and especially from January 28, when the JEC ordered the immediate withdrawal of Juvillà's MP's certificate and issued one for Nogay Ndiaye, the next candidate on CUP's list for Lleida. While politicians negotiated, at no time did the officials consider disobedience, and Borràs herself acknowledged on Monday that she could not force them to do anything because she would be committing a crime of "coercion". To fill in the pieces still missing from this puzzle, Borràs would have to be the one to explain how the two points of her last proposal would have been carried out. For the moment, Vox has already asked her to appear in a committee and Ciudadanos that the next meeting of the Board of Spokespeople be recorded.