After a general election and before the formation of a new government, it's traditional for the Spanish king to meet representatives of the different parties, generally whoever was first on their list of candidates. For JxCat this time, then, that should fall to Jordi Sànchez. Today, however, the Supreme Court has refused him permission to meet Felipe VI in the Zarzuela palace. The party has announced he will be substituted by former Catalan culture minister Laura Borràs; as on previous occasions, ERC won't attend their meeting.
Last Tuesday, new Congress speaker Meritxell Batet told the party that, if they wanted it to be Sànchez who goes, they would have to ask the court for permission. Lawyer Jordi Pina did so in a filing calling on the "exceptional nature" of the moment, a moment which is "none other than the prolegomenons conceived by the Constitution prior to a constitutional moment as important as investing a prime minister".
In their ruling this Monday, the court's second chamber, which is hearing the trial in the case, say that there do not exist "important confirmed motives", as the defence argued, to authorise him to leave prison and the "requested permission doesn't fit within the existence of an event which affects a relative of the inmate". The judges also argue that Sànchez can be "perfectly substituted by any other member of his political candidacy". They add that the "refusal we decide on here is a limitation inherent to the cautionary measure which affects him".
The court also adds that, regardless of its opinion on the merits of the request, it would have to refuse it on a technicality: although it has the power to grant such special permission, any request should have been addressed first to the prison service for them to produce an administrative file. On the other hand, it doesn't matter that Sànchez was suspended from his seat because the relevant article in the Constitution setting out the talks with the parties doesn't say who has to represent them. In 2016, for example, PSOE was represented by Javier Fernández who wasn't a deputy.
After the news was announced, those in charge of Sànchez's Twitter account posted a image of him edited to look like he was meeting the king with the message: "The Supreme Court refuses to let me go to the talks with Felipe VI. They give an excuse - the reality is they're scared of this photo!"