MADRID – Spain’s Constitutional Court (TC) unanimously agreed on Saturday to block the debate on reinstating Carlos Puigdemont as president of Catalonia, scheduled for Jan. 30, on the supposition that the Catalan parliament would allow it to be done at a distance and not in person.
Next Tuesday morning, the Catalan parliament will meet to decide how to pursue the debate in the afternoon, in which the separatist Puigdemont would be the candidate for regional president.
Catalan independence supporters have the majority in that chamber, and their collaborators have been studying ways to hold the debate at a distance, either through videoconferences or with another lawmaker reading the candidate’s speech.
The Spanish government formalized Friday a move to block any possibility of Puigdemont being a candidate at a distance, having been exiled in Brussels since late October to avoid arrest for the crimes of rebellion and sedition for promoting Catalonia’s secession from Spain.
Saturday’s meeting of TC judges, urgent and extraordinary, began with opposing stands, so they sought a formula of consensus that was reached unanimously after six hours of internal debate.
On Saturday, the TC approved a precautionary measure, and at the same time postponed a decision on suspending the Catalan parliament’s plenary session scheduled for Jan. 30.
The measure adopted by the TC now leaves the responsibility up to the Catalan parliament, whose speaker, Roger Torrent, insisted Friday to maintain the plenary next Jan. 30 with Puigdemont as the sole candidate.
TC judges have always been unanimous in rejecting any steps toward secession.
The breaking point was the Catalan parliament’s approval last Oct. 27 of a unilateral declaration of independence, which led the Spanish government on the same day to dismiss Puigdemont’s entire Cabinet and call for regional elections on Dec. 21.
However, the results were not as hoped for, with the separatists winning 70 of the 135 seats in the regional parliament.
Now, if Puigdemont wishes to obey the law, he will have to come personally to Barcelona to defend his candidacy, in which case could be detained under an arrest warrant handed down by the Supreme Court.