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A sensation of déjà vu from Spain's Central Electoral Commission: the experience as MEPs-elect of Carles Puigdemont, Oriol Junqueras and Toni Comín last June is now being repeated for Clara Ponsatí, who is in the process of becoming a member of the European chamber thanks to Brexit. When the Catalan politician failed to appear at Spain's Congress of Deputies this Thursday in order to promise allegiance to the constitution, her seat was declared "temporarily vacant". The electoral body is, thus, still turning a deaf ear to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling on the Junqueras case, insisting that Ponsatí is obliged to travel to Madrid and abide by the constitution. This, despite the fact that the EU court's ruling allowed Puigdemont and Comín to become MEPs a month ago without having to go through the procedure in Madrid. The electoral authority has reported its decision to the European Parliament.

When Ponsatí failed to arrive when first called last Tuesday, as she is in exile in Scotland, the commission gave her a new appointment for Thursday at 1pm. Once confirmed that she had not come to Spain, the Spanish electoral body then excluded her from the seat: "Due to a failure to appear to abide by the Constitution, the seat will remain temporarily vacant until this act of adhesion is performed." This does not preclude, according to the commission, that in line with the application of the decision of the ECJ, her proclamation as an elected MEP "could give rise to the appropriate consequences", such as her parliamentary immunity. But nevertheless, the seat is vacant.

 

The Central Electoral Commission summonsed the five new MEPs that Spain has gained through Brexit to appear on Tuesday: respectively representing the PSOE, Vox, PP and Ciudadanos parties, along with the list on which Ponsatí stood, JxCat. The other four MEPs attended the appointment, but Clara Ponsatí stayed away: she is in exile in Scotland, facing both a European arrest warrant and a Spanish warrant issued by the Supreme Court. A trip to Madrid could have meant her arrest. That is why, despite being summonsed again this Thursday at noon, the politician in exile was not there.

In its written resolution on Tuesday, the Commission argued that the cases of Puigdemont and Comín, who came to office after the ECJ ruling, without abiding by the Spanish Constitution, "cannot serve as a basis" for Ponsatí. The document recalled that the Spanish electoral law on this procedure is applicable until the European or national courts say the contrary. Summing up, the electoral arbitrator acknowledged Ponsatí's immunity, but stated that "this does not exclude her from the requirement to comply with the requirement for adhesion to the constitution set out in [the law], nor does it enable her to comply with the requirement through procedures other than those legally established."

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