The votes have now been cast, and although the result won't be known until Tuesday, MEPs from several parties from the Spanish state wanted to make their positions clear. The five MEPs representing Unidas Podemos declared that they would vote against lifting the immunity of the Catalan president in exile, Carles Puigdemont, in the vote taken this Monday evening on the Spanish Supreme Court's request to waive the normal parliamentary immunity from prosecution, which has already been endorsed by the European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs.
"In Catalonia there is a political conflict that requires politics, not judicialization," Miguel Urbán tweeted to announce the reason for the Unidas Podemos vote, on both Puigdemont and his two Catalan colleagues, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí, also former Catalan government members in exile who were elected to the European Parliament in 2019.
En Catalunya existe un conflicto político que requiere de política, no de judicialización. Hoy el PE vota la retirada de inmunidad de tres eurodiputados. Esto no va sobre independencia o si nos caen mejor o peor, sino sobre democracia. Votaremos NO@KRLS @toni_comin @ClaraPonsati— Miguel Urbán Crespo (@MiguelUrban) March 8, 2021
"In Catalonia there is a political conflict that requires politics, not judicialization. Today, the EP votes on the withdrawal of the immunity of three MEPs. This is not about independence or how much we like them, but rather about democracy. We will vote NO."— Miguel Urbán Crespo
Bildu and PNV, also against
The delegation of Unidas Podemos to the European Parliament is made up of two MEPs from Izquierda Unida, Sira Rego and Manu Pineda, and three from Podemos, Eugenia Rodríguez Palop, Idoia Villanueva and Miguel Urbán, who are part of the European Left group, which also includes EH Bildu MEP Pernando Barrena, who has also said he will vote against the petitions.
As well, the representative of the Basuer Nationalist Party (PNV) in Brussels, Izaskun Bilbao, has confirmed that she will vote no to lifting the immunity of Puigdemont, Comín and Ponsatí. In a video which she shared on social media, the MEP said that she will vote this way because "Catalonia has a political problem that must be solved with dialogue and democracy". Bilbao stresses that "criminal solutions" are not the answer.
"The European Parliament, after the reprehensible police action on October 1st, 2017, made it clear: without law nothing is possible, but with the law alone, these problems cannot be solved," said the MEP.
In the same vein, the Basque Nationalist politician pointed out that "the criminal prescriptions that have been applied so far, in addition to being of doubtful legality, have widened the gap between the two conflicting positions." As well, she clarified that "some of the judges who have led these proceedings have already been convicted in Strasbourg for bias and for leading unfair trials against political representatives."
Finally, Izaskun Bilbao said that "there is no guarantee that the three MEPs affected will have a fair trial. This criminal case does not make sense."
The importance of the Podemos vote
With this position, the division within Pedro Sánchez's coalition government over the conflict between Catalonia and the Spanish state becomes clear once again. While Unidas Podemos continues to be in favour of a referendum in order to resolve the conflict, senior coalition partner PSOE still adhere to a policy of repression. The Spanish Socialists do not recognize either the nine jailed Catalan leaders or the exiled politicians as valid spokespeople, they refuse an amnesty on the 2017 events and deny Catalonia's right to self-determination. In addition, Spanish prosecutors continue to press new charges against pro-independence leaders and supporters.
When will the result be known?
The plenary session of the European Parliament is to vote at the end of its Monday evening session on whether it agrees to suspend the European Parliamentary immunity of Puigdemont, Comín and Ponsatí, in order to allow the Spanish court to seek extradition for a trial in Spain. However, the result will not be made public until Tuesday at 9am, when it will be read at the beginning of the session.
If the vote of the plenary confirms the position of the Legal Affairs committee, then the immunity of the three Catalan MEPs will be suspended. The cases of Puigdemont and Comín can be reactivated in the Belgian court, which will then have to decide whether to execute Spain's European Arrest Warrant for the exiled politicians to be extradited to Spain.
Similarly, the process affecting Clara Ponsatí would be reactivated in the United Kingdom where she is resident, since in her case as well, the court hearing the matter chose to adjourn its proceedings until the position of the European Parliament was known.