The Catalan Minister of the Presidency Francesc Homs held a press conference to comment on the Constitutional Court’s sentence concerning the consultation held on the 9th of November as well as several other articles regarding the Law on Consultations passed by the Catalan Parliament in 2014.
According to Minister Homs, from a legal prespective, the Constitutional Court “made a very restrictive and far-fetched interpretation of Catalonia’s constitutional pact and its principles of autonomy and political legitimacy”. More specifically, Homs noted that the sentence implicitly “denies Catalan institutions’ democratic legitimacy and ability to pose questions to the public” even for matters under the Catalan Government’s jurisdiction.
Homs warned that “Spain is paying a high price to stop the sovereignty debate, to the point that the country is posing a challenge to the essence of democracy”. “It’s difficult to trust that Spain’s regions and parliaments are truly autonomous when these allegedly autonomous entities cannot ask their constituents their opinion”. The Minister was taken aback by the Constitutional Court’s claim to amply “guarantee” democratic participation by “allowing people to vote every four years” while relegating other citizen consultations to “extraordinary matters.”
As for the court’s sentence, Minister Homs complained that “the Constitutional Court is aligned with the Spanish Government’s interests”, undermining the independence and neutrality that should characterize such a court. According to Homs, the fact that the Constitutional Court met outside its regular schedule to attend to this issue, despite the fact that the decree against energy poverty has been pending since December 2013, is a matter of concern. “The court is willing to pick up the pace and meet outside the regular calendar for certain issues, while sidelining other problems that affect large segments of our population”, added the Minister.
From an institutional and political point of view, Homs noted that restricting consultations on citizen opinions to once every four years reflects the country’s “low-quality democracy”. Indeed, “this is incompatible with the European Union’s commitment to democratic participation”, stated Homs.
In addition, Homs noted that Spain’s democratic trajectory “does not have a recognizable legal framework or dialogical model” as the Spanish Constitution “is closed off to being interpreted to one side’s convenience”. Indeed, legal alternatives are much needed, such as the call for parliamentary elections which are to take place on September 27th, 2015.
Homs concluded his remarks by reminding the press that a meeting for the National Alliance on the Right to Decide will be held on Friday, March 6th, with civil and local organizations, citizens, cultural groups, economic representatives, unions, companies, and supportive parliamentary groups scheduled to attend. To the Catalan Government, “this meeting is an opportunity to reaffirm Catalan society’s commitment to its right to decide”.
The Minister of the Presidency disclosed that the Advisory Council on the National Transition would draft a report on the extent to which Catalonia, its institutions, political representatives, and society “have followed all available steps to regularly exercise democracy, including the right to decide, in accordance with the law”. Upon completion, the report will be sent to European institutions, so as to inform them on “the Spanish government’s response toward the people of Catalonia’s will to exercise their right to decide”. Homs highlighted that the Government does not expect European institutions to issue replies to this report, rather, the report is meant to provide information on “the Spanish State’s level of democratic quality” as well as on the elections scheduled for September 27th.