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Another day of convoluted efforts by the Catalan Parliament's majority to preserve the seat of MP Pau Juvillà - and it ends with a last-minute letter that points to a possible denouement on Friday morning. The Catalan Parliament this Thursday gave its approval to the committee pronouncement asserting that CUP deputy Pau Juvillà can retain his seat, and it did so without having summoned Juvillà to the parliamentary plenary session and also without accepting that he has the right to vote. To add further contradictions, the CUP decided not to vote on the opinion which was drafted by the far-left party itself along with ERC and Junts, and they did so because they consider that if he has not been called or did not have the right to vote, it would contradict the same pronouncement that was accepted today: in short, the CUP deputies suspect that Juvillà is no longer an MP.

Thus, Parliament, with the votes in favour of ERC, Junts and the Comuns passed a report today that defends maintaining Juvillà's seat, just one day before the expiry of the deadline given by Spain's Central Electoral Commission for Borràs to report on the actions she has taken to execute the withdrawal of the deputy's seat, after he was banned from office for six months for failing to remove yellow ribbons from his office in the Lleida town hall when he was a councillor in that Catalan city.

However, the day ended with further evidence pointing to the inability of Juvillà to maintain his seat. The secretary general of Parliament, Esther Andreu, registered a letter with the Bureau on Thursday night stating that by legal imperative and to prevent that she and other officials of the chamber being accused of "any type of disciplinary, accounting or criminal liability" she is obliged to give the parliamentary administration the necessary instructions to obey the agreements of the Central Electoral Commission, which has ordered the withdrawal of Pau Juvillà's seat in Parliament. The Bureau meets on Friday at 9:30am to consider the matter. 

The plenary session

This, at the end of a long session that started very nervously. Borràs called together the party spokespeople at 1.30 pm to address the session agenda, which was agreed to consist of one single point: voting on the opinion that had been approved on Wednesday yesterday in the MPs Committee. As soon as the session was called for 5pm, the CUP applied for Juvillà's vote to be delegated. This has been a very common option in recent times as under Covid the capacity of the chamber has been reduced, and it is speaker Borràs who accepts the applications or not. The speaker usually returns the accepted voting delegations long before the session begins, but this was not the case today. The session began, with Borràs entering accompanied by Junts leaders such as Mònica Sales, Elsa Artadi and Aurora Madaula, and the CUP still did not know if Juvillà would be able to vote or not. It was Vox MP Ignacio Garriga who asked for the floor to find out which voting delegations had been accepted, and in particular he asked about that of Juvillà.

"The delegation of Pau Juvillà's vote does not appear in the voting delegations that we have accepted for this plenary session," said Borràs, who said that she had decided this under Article 16.1 of the regulations, which refers to conflicts of interests: "The transparency and clarity of the vote is essential to preserve the rights of the deputy," said Borràs, in reference to the vote on the committee's opinion, reiterating that it is a vote that should not be tainted by conflicts of interest. This situation is different from that of the plenary session of December 17th, where another MPs Committee opinion was also passed to preserve his seat: then, Juvillà did not vote because it directly affected him, but he did have the right to vote.


Does he still have his seat?

The doubt about whether or not Juvillà is now a parliamentary deputy is growing but no one seems willing to say it clearly. The CUP suspects that he is no longer a deputy and sees it as insulting that Borràs does not communicate this to them, while the approved committee opinion states that according to the regulations there is no reason for him to have lost his MP status. In addition, the parliamentary services today failed to include Juvillà in the list of those called to the meeting of spokespeople or the plenary session. Nor did the Bureau have his usual named folder, an item that is always present in such sessions. During the plenary, Cs deputy Nacho Martín Blanco asked Borràs directly if Juvillà was still a deputy, but the speaker did not answer.

CUP Dolors Sabater Eulalia Reguant Carles Riera  debat sobre la inhabilitació del diputat Pau Juvillà - Joan Mateu Parra

CUP deputies / Joan Mateu Parra

This situation landed like a bucket of cold water on the CUP, which is increasingly distrustful of Borràs, party sources told Yesterday the CUP explained to its members that it had offered to preside over Parliament to assume the judicial consequences derived from maintaining Juvillà's seat, and today the deputy Eulàlia Reguant, after learning of the non-delegation of his vote, announced that the party would not vote on the opinion because of its contradictions. "We cannot normalize the repression of the state, the systematic and persistent repression in which the Spanish state has us," said Reguant, reproaching the Central Electoral Commission, which she said has gone above the authority of Parliament and that "Cs, PP and Vox are its branches, carrying out a new coup d'etat against democracy by altering what the citizens of Catalonia decided in the elections."


ERC: "The same as Torrent"

Beyond the CUP, Jordi Orobitg took the floor for ERC, limiting himself to claiming that it is necessary to expand the base of support at every instance of interference by the state, and not lose sight of "the real adversary." He also threw a barb at Borràs, saying that today's situation was exactly the same as two years ago, when the defence of Quim Torra's seat was being addressed, and at that time Roger Torrent was the speaker of parliament. ERC members say they will not blow up this issue, with Junts MPs claiming they are doing more than Torrent did. However, ERC believes that not admitting Juvillà's vote and arguing "conflict of interest" is an excuse which Borràs is using.

Junts, on the other hand, had to accept the decision on not accepting the CUP MP's vote and it did so, standing by Borràs. Deputy Francesc de Dalmases criticised the JEC for not respecting the rules of the chamber, and claimed that independence has worked honestly to address the Juvillà case: "When necessary, we pay with exile or imprisonment," he said.

Laura Borras debat sobre la inhabilitació del diputat Pau Juvillà - Joan Mateu Parra

The speaker, Laura Borràs before entering the plenary session / Joan Mateu Parra

From the Comuns, David Cid regretted that the management of the situation had "got away" from Borràs, and said that although it seemed that the debate was about Juvillà's seat, in the end it revolved around "whether Borràs dares to do what Roger Torrent did not do". "It is clear that the 'Torrent route' is being imposed, and a torrent of reality has landed on them".

From the Socialists of the  PSC, Alícia Romero, who this time - unlike in December - did not joined the defence of Juvillà's seat, accused the four sovereignist parties of creating an embarrassing spectacle. From Vox, Ignacio Garriga again threatened Borràs if she does not comply with the JEC resolution, and from Cs, Carlos Carrizosa criticised the pro-independence forces for seeking "magic formulas" while Alejandro Fernández (PP) reproached Borràs's "combination of arrogance and childishness".

Ignacio Garriga debat sobre la inhabilitació del diputat Pau Juvillà - Joan Mateu Parra

Ignacio Garriga (Vox) during his speech / Joan Mateu Parra