It is worth keeping a close eye on the contention being played out between Spain's Supreme Court and the Congress of Deputies as a result of a verdict given by this court that disqualifies the Podemos MP Alberto Rodríguez from holding office. To be precise, he was sentenced to one month and fifteen days' imprisonment, commutable to a fine of 540 euros, for assaulting police officers; and it also includes a supplementary disqualification from his right to be a democratic representative for the period of his sentence. This is a quite unprecedented situation, since the Supreme Court has commuted the prison sentence to a fine but is preventing him from continuing as a parliamentarian in a decision that, after reading it closely, has all the appearance of intervening in politics, thus crossing a line that, to date, the Supreme Court had only stepped over with the Catalan independence movement.
At first, the lawyers advising the Congress of Deputies - professionals with whom you may agree or not, but who know a few things about their field, many of them also being state solicitors - found an escape route that allowed the ruling of the Supreme Court to be circumvented. Thus, there are legal experts who maintain that, at the moment this amount of 540 euros is paid, the principal sentence would be extinguished and, therefore, the supplementary disqualification as well. Or else, that the disqualification could be postponed until the end of the legislature. The court of judge Marchena, which does not beat around the bush, has sent an official letter to the speaker of Congress, Merixell Batet, urging her to communicate the start date of the disqualification from office, while a sentence of disobedience hangs over her personally if she does not act quickly. Does this ring any bells?
Nor does it end there, since, on Thursday, Congress's procedural Bureau met to address the issue with disparate positions between, on the one hand, most members of the PSOE and Podemos, who are in favour of forcing a new clarification to be given by the Supreme Court, and on the other, Batet, who advocates settling the matter without further ado, and thus, not upsetting the high court, claiming that its ruling is final. Two reflections: the first, Spanish political power has given unlimited power to Spanish justice to solve the independence issue, and once you give someone uncontrolled powers you find that they are not just to act on a single issue, but rather, they end up being applicable and valid for any matter.
Secondly, if, due to a conviction involving "an attack on police officers", as the court puts it, the lawyers to the Congress of Deputies are protecting one of their parliamentarians, then can we be sure that their legal colleagues in the Parliament of Catalonia also did everything possible to protect the rights as a deputy of Quim Torra, who was also the president of Catalonia, disqualified from office for hanging a banner on the balcony of the Generalitat palace, in Plaça Sant Jaume? Of course they are different cases but, in the end, the general attitudes expressed also have their importance.
I am very much afraid that Alberto Rodríguez will only have a few more days as a member of the Spanish parliament. But, at some point, political power will have to make a reflection as useful as it is essential: has the time come for the Spanish senior judiciary to stop being The Power in capitals, and for its position to be the appropriate one for the democratic countries in our neighbourhood? Because if action is not taken quickly, the persecution that the Catalan independence movement has already experienced is going to extend to the whole of Spanish politics. Well, not the whole. The right will be left out of all this. And, faced with this, turning a deaf ear and looking the other way is never the best path.