A month and a half after Spanish king Felipe VI visited Barcelona to open the huge Mobile World Congress event, a visit accompanied by massive protests, he returns to Barcelona this Monday for another ceremony - in this case, the graduation of judges from the Judicial School. The event will be held at Barcelona's Auditorium at 12 noon, and Felipe VI will be accompanied by the relevant judicial authorities.
However, not a single Catalan authority will be there to accompany the king, as EFE news agency reports. There are very few Catalan authorities currently in office - due to the imposition of direct rule from Madrid under article 155, and the inability to form a new Catalan government up till now - and following the frictions in his last visit with both the speaker of the Catalan parliament, Roger Torrent, and the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, no Catalan political representative has been invited this time around. The judicial leadership has alleged that this action has been taken to underline the independence of the judicial powers. The only political authority due to greet the king is the Spanish justice minister, Rafael Catalá, as the "duty minister" who is assigned to support the monarch in the ceremony, but neither Roger Torrent, nor Ada Colau, nor the Spanish government's own representative in Catalonia, Enric Millo, will be there.
The judicial figures present will include Gema Espinosa, director of the Judicial School and wife of judge Pablo Llarena, who is hearing the case against members of the Catalan government on the referendum issue. Also present will be the president of the General Council of the Judiciary and the Supreme Court, Carlos Lesmes, and Spain's attorney general, Julián Sánchez Melgar.
The visit is taking place at a time when the administration is more questioned than ever in Catalonia. The decision by the German justice system to free Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and not to extradite him for rebellion has reinforced the positions of those who considered that the accusation was abusive. As well, many public figures have accused the central government of judicialising politics, and as part of this, it is claimed that judges are playing a role that is inappropriate. For this reason, and due to the support shown by Felip VI for the repression of the independence process, it is expected that Monday will again be a day of protest in Barcelona.