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Spain appeals against Catalan independence motion

Source: El Pais - Wed 11th Nov 2015
Spain appeals against Catalan independence motion

The Spanish Cabinet has given the green light to file an appeal before the Constitutional Court against the motion approved by the Catalan parliament on Monday to begin the process of breaking away from Spain. The Solicitor General Marta Silva de Lapuerta registered the text with the Court at 12.10pm on Wednesday

The government's appeal asks the Constitutional Court to give an "express warning" to 21 high-ranking Catalan officials – including house speaker Carmen Forcadell and acting premier Artur Mas – that they face suspension for failing to fulfill their Constitutional obligations.

It also requests that these officials, along with any future regional leader to come out of the ongoing investiture debate following the September 27 election, be "personally" notified of any suspension.

The government also wants the court to make sure Forcadell and other Catalan parliamentary officials are expressly prohibited from admitting any "initiative of a legislative or any other nature that directly or indirectly attempts to enact the suspended motion" for consideration, debate or vote.

The text drawn up by the Solicitor General's Office and its experts specifies around 10 articles of the Constitution that the independence motion may have violated.

The Constitutional Court could make a decision on whether to accept the appeal this Wednesday afternoon, and if it does, it will automatically trigger the suspension of the contested motion.

Following the appeal filing, PM Mariano Rajoy appeared before the cameras at La Moncloa prime ministerial residence to explain the steps his government was taking.

He said the aim of the Catalan pro-independence groups was to "break everything" and "return us to arbitrary power and go back to other times that constitutional Spain has definitively left behind. When you disregard the law, you renounce democracy. They are trying to end democracy and the rule of law and we are not going to allow that.

Explaining the aims of the action the government is taking, Rajoy said he was seeking a "rectification." "I am not going to accept a group of people eliminating the rules that we have made between us all.

"The motion eliminates the Spanish Constitution, where the rules of co-existence are fixed, in favor of a resolution that says that the current laws are not going to be respected, that says what the Constitution says will not be complied with […] it is breaking everything.

"Without respect for the law, any power, any government loses its legitimacy," he said.

"They are trying to eliminate national sovereignty, to take away the right to decide what the country is from Spaniards across the whole of Spain and many in Catalonia; that does not happen in any country in the world and less so in the 21st century," the prime minister concluded.

With the backing of the separatist coalition Junts pel Si and the anti-capitalist CUP party, the Catalan parliament approved the independence resolution on Monday in a 72-63 vote.

The document calls on Catalan lawmakers to draft three new laws within 30 days that would lead to a new Constitution and the creation of a separate social security system and local treasury.

But the most controversial part of the motion are clauses that state that Spain's Constitutional Court no longer has legitimacy over Catalan affairs.

Rajoy formally asked the State Council, which serves as the government's advisory body, for its opinion on Monday, which in a unanimous vote, said that there was enough legal backing for Rajoy to challenge the motion.

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