The Catalan High Court of Justice’s (TSJC) decision to keep February 14th as election date was not a unanimous one. Judge José Manuel de Soler Bigas voted to postpone elections, appealing to the right to life and the possible low turnout if the original date is kept.
The judge compares both rights, and concludes that both the pandemic and health emergency situation could lead to a low turnout, thus invalidating electoral results. “the citizen’s perspective on the current situation can result, as previously mentioned, in a low turnout, with the inherent risk of an attempt to invalidate electoral results”.
Just as the other six judges’ decisions, the dissenting vote goes beyond the legal resolution and the safeguarding of the electoral process and enters the political arena. It highlights the political parties’ agreement to postpone the elections: “most of them have publicly stated their agreement with the postponement of the elections and no political party represented in the Parliament of Catalonia has come before this court to challenge the agreement enshrined in decree 1/2021 dated January 15th, while the matter is being examined and voted upon. Not a negligible fact in a democratic system such as ours”.
Regarding Covid-19, the judge noted that the very electoral process could result in a spike in the number of cases: “We cannot discard that, due to the social interaction and mobility intrinsic to the critical phases of the electoral process, electoral campaign and polling day, the pandemic could worsen, entailing an increase in the number of cases, hospital admissions and deaths”.
For this reason, the dissenting vote recalls legislation on the right to life and physical integrity; the right to equal treatment, “regarding those whose health will be directly affected by the pandemic, which the second report issued on January 21st 2021 by the head of the Public Health Agency estimates will be around 140,000 (either in isolation or quarantined on February 14th”; document 13, attached to the written pleas from the defendant), and the right to health protection.