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Did he change his mind? The head of the legal advisors to Spain's Congress of Deputies has now backed in writing the decision of speaker of the house Meritxell Batet to carry out the sentence of the Supreme Court and to strip the MP Alberto Rodríguez (Unidas Podemos) of his seat. The document was released this Monday following the note sent on Friday by judge Manuel Marchena requesting the MP's removal from his seat, despite the fact that the same lawyers had, last week, written a report indicating that Rodríguez would be able to keep his seat, despite the conviction.

Originally, the Canary Islands MP for junior government partner Unidas Podemos was sentenced to 45 days in prison, although that sentence was later commuted to a fine of 540 euros. The chief lawyer of Congress, secretary general Carlos Gutiérrez Vicén, now considers "that the custodial sentence imposed at the origin does not lose its nature due to the fact that it has been replaced" by the economic sanction.


"For this reason, and as a necessary consequence, it must be understood that the situation of subsequent ineligibility applies" as foreseen in Spanish electoral legislation, under which a deputy sentenced to prison must automatically lose his seat. Thus, the lawyer agreed that Batet had to "declare Mr Rodriguez's loss of his status as a deputy and initiate proceedings for his replacement as she effectively did," the text stated.

full-blown crisis between the Spanish government partners threatened last Friday, as Unidas Podemos asserted that the party would make a criminal complaint against the Socialist speaker Batet. However, Unidas Podemos backed down from this position, whereupon the Canarian politician decided to abandon his membership of the party.

Today, Rodríguez has announced that he will fight to regain his seat as an MP. Specifically, the Canarian deputy has sent a petition to the speaker of Congress, in the form of a letter asking a series of questions about the loss of his seat. "As you will understand, the deprivation of my seat as a Member of Parliament cannot be simply accepted passively and, from this moment on, I inform you of my intention to exercise all the resources that the law allows me to reverse this arbitrary measure," he warned.

ex secretario organizacion diputado unidas podemos alberto rodriguez - Efe

Alberto Rodríguez / EFE

Rodríguez's defence strategy

In addition, sources in Rodríguez's defence have told the Efe agency that they will go before the Supreme Court to present an incident of nullity in the sentence stripping him of his MP status after being convicted for kicking a police officer in 2014. Thus, having hired the services of Carles Puigdemont's lawyer Gonzalo Boye, the Canarian politician will argue that proceedings should be annulled on the basis that there has been "flagrant defencelessness" and a violation of fundamental rights.

The deadline for requesting the annulment of the proceedings is twenty days from the notification of the sentence. As the judgement was notified on October 6th, Rodríguez is still in time to present this suit, prior to a second step, an appeal for constitutional protection before Spain's Constitutional Court.

Electoral board meets on Wednesday

For its part, Spain's Central Electoral Commission will meet on Wednesday to confirm the removal of Rodríguez from his seat and communicate the name of the person on the electoral list for the constituency of Santa Cruz de Tenerife that should replace him (who according to the Spanish state gazette is Fatima González, next on the Podemos list).



Main image: Speaker of the Congress of Deputies, Meritxell Batet / Efe