Read in Catalan

The decision of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) and its presidential candidate in the elections of February 14th, Salvador Illa, to knock on the door of the Constitutional Court to undo the decision made by the Bureau of Parliament to accept the delegation of the vote of Lluís Puig - Catalan culture minister in Brussels exile and newly-elected MP for Together for Catalonia (Junts) - is the first image offered of what the Socialists intend their position to be as the main opposition party. In this, the Arrimadas model of leader of the opposition is also repeated: the decision to take measures previously defeated by vote in the Bureau to the Constitutional Court, with an eye to a final decision that relates to the sovereignty of the chamber.

With this initiative, Illa formalizes the breaking of ties with the pro-independence bloc - if he doesn't back down - and leaves the members of the parliamentary governing body who voted in favour of accepting a proxy vote on behalf of Lluís Puig to face the prospect of their first confrontation, from the decision that the Constitutional Court might end up adopting.

The conflict dates back to the constitution of the new Parliament for the current legislature, in which Laura Borràs was elected speaker and all the members of the Bureau were appointed. On that occasion, the three-person Mesa d'Edat* opted not to accept the vote of Puig, exiled in Belgium. David González of the PSC, and Albert Terradas from Vox voted 'no'; while Ernest Maragall, from Republican Left (ERC) voted in favour. A different response was experienced in the two investiture sessions of Pere Aragonès as a candidate for President of Catalonia. Then, the now-constituted Bureau validated the delegation of Puig's votes, with the approval of four of its seven members - Laura Borràs, Anna Caula, Ruben Wagensberg and Pau Juvillà - against the two opposing votes from the PSC and the abstention of the pro-independence MP Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, of Junts, a stand which later triggered a contention that ended with his departure from the Bureau.

It is obvious that the decision has little or nothing to do with the specific fact that Puig delegated his vote in line with practices contained in the regulations. What the PSC intends is to impose the doctrine applied in the previous legislature, based on a report by the parliamentary lawyers in 2018 entitled "Legal report on possible issues that may arise at the beginning of the new legislature". This document made a distinction between the circumstances in which some MPs were in pre-trial detention, while others were in Belgium with other procedural circumstances. The lawyers concluded that there was no possibility of delegating votes in the case of those in the latter situation.

We are therefore faced with the first collision if, as can be assumed, the Constitutional Court ends up accepting the PSC's appeal and the Bureau of Parliament maintains its criteria. Above all, because the speaker of Parliament has been adamant about this and has championed her radical decision to preserve the autonomy of the house and its sovereignty, regardless of the imperative decisions made by the courts. Laura Borràs will have - depending on the speed employed by the court and, obviously, her own decision - a real hot potato in her hands.



*Translator's note: The Mesa d'Edat ("Age Committee") is a temporary committee which presides over the first session of a newly-elected Catalan Parliament before it elects its own officers (speaker and Bureau) who will preside over subsequent sessions. In the Catalan Parliament, this committee consists of the oldest elected member of the house, as chairperson, and the two youngest members, as secretaries.