Junts’ proposal to intervene electronically in Parliament strains the independence movement

It’s been almost six years, but the wound still festers. It was January 30, 2018 when the president of the Parliament, Roger Torrentsuspended the investiture of Carles Puigdemont, arguing that it could not “guarantee” an “effective and guaranteed” debate. The regulations of the Catalan Chamber required – and continue to require – that the candidate present his government program and does not contemplate that he not do so in person. This was also warned at the time by the Constitutional Court. Since then there have been several attempts to modify the internal regulations to somehow allow telematics, especially as a result of the coronavirus crisis, but all of them have fallen on deaf ears. The main obstacle has always been the same: remote investitures. And today, the differences are perpetuated.

This is recorded in the amendments that the groups have registered to the proposal to reform the Parliament regulations which has been being processed in the Chamber since May. This is the initiative sponsored by CKD and the CUP which proposes two big changes: prohibiting “hate speeches” -with an eye on the extreme right of Vox-, expanding the assumptions of the delegated vote and enter the telematic -to, in large part, regularize the remote pronouncement of the Junts deputy, Lluís Puig-.

A proposal that Junts did not want to join, because it considered it lukewarm, and that, at the time, already caused a new clash between post-convergents and republicans. With a new resolution from the TC against Puig’s vote, ERC accused its former partners of wanting to take the vice president Alba Verges -then with functions as president- to the crossroads of disobedience. Finally, it was raffled off with a new mechanism that the president now continues to apply. Anna Erra. But now, the Junts group has taken advantage of the processing of said reform to go one step further and present its wish list.

Telematic interventions

Post-convergence wants to allow not only telematic voting, but also the “intervention” of remote deputies in various cases. In addition to cases of maternity, hospitalization or disability, as well as during the performance of “tasks” of institutional representation of the Parliament or participation in “acts” as elected representatives; They also open the door for them to do so.”for any other circumstance that does not allow presence“. Something that leaves a wide range of possibilities and that could allow the intervention of any deputy residing abroad. At the moment only Lluís Puig is in these conditions, but this could change in new elections.

An amendment that the rest of the parliamentary groups do not view favorably and find it difficult to succeed, even more so taking into account the contrary opinion already expressed by lawyers on more than one occasion. What could go ahead, however, are telematic plenary sessions in serious cases such as the covid crisis.

Precisely, ERC and the CUP have presented amendments to their own text, in which they propose allow thematic plenary sessions, but only in case of “force majeure, serious collective risk, health crisis, catastrophe, public calamity or other similar situations.” The wording makes it clear that this possibility can only be exercised in the event that circumstances “do not make in-person attendance of all the deputies advisable”, provided that this is agreed by an absolute majority of the Board and ratified by two thirds of the House.

The self-amendment – according to sources from both parties – comes as a result of a lawyers’ report, in which they propose that the work that was done during the coronavirus crisis to regulate telematic participation be included in the regulation reform. The difference with the initial proposal is that telematic voting was only incorporated in “exceptional situations of special gravity”, with a wording similar to that of the Congress of Deputies, while in the current proposal telematic plenary sessions are contemplated – and not only the intervention of a deputy as proposed by Junts-, but only in very exceptional cases and with the approval of a very large majority of parliamentarians.

The priorities of the rest of the groups

Beyond the telematic interventions, the amendment process has also allowed the rest of the parties to propose other changes to the regulations. Junts proposes to delete article 25.4 of the current regulations that allow the suspension of a deputy in the event that an oral trial is opened for crimes linked to corruption. It was the prerogative that allowed the then president to be suspended a year ago. Laura Borras and that Junts already argued at the time that it violated the presumption of innocence.

Junts also proposes to delete the article that allows a deputy to be suspended if he is tried for corruption

The ‘Borras case’ is also behind some of the changes proposed by the PSC. As they already proposed at the beginning of April – a proposal that was rejected a month later by the majority of the Chamber -, the socialists want the Parliament’s regulations to allow dismiss any member of the Board -including the presidency- if so agreed by a majority of “three-fifths” of the chamber. In their initial proposal they proposed that an absolute majority would be enough, which sparked criticism from more than one party. For this reason, they have decided to expand the necessary support.

Also Citizens proposes that the presidency of the Parliament can be removed “in case of seriously neglecting responsibilities” or making “improper use of the position.” They convey it via a motion of censure – like the obligation to propose another candidate – and it should be presented by three groups or a third of the Chamber’s deputies. The Common They propose it, also by absolute majority, from the second year of the legislature.

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Furthermore, the purple ones want guarantee via regulation that there is parity in the Parliament’s Bureau, in all committees and in the internal positions – presidency, spokesperson and deputy spokespersons – of the parliamentary groups. And, in the case of the Chamber Table, they demand that it be done in a ‘zipper’ format. That is, once the president is chosen, the first vice president is of the opposite sex, the second is of the same sex as the presidency and so on, successively, also with the election of the secretaries. With the current composition, the first three positions are occupied by women, who also win in the global calculation, but at the beginning of the previous legislature there was only one woman, Alba Vergesas fourth secretary, the last link in the parliamentary leadership.

From now on, with all the amendments – almost a hundred – already registered, the next step is for the president of the Parliament to call the presentation, where the accepted experts will first be heard and then all these proposals will begin to be debated. It is possible, however, that the lawyers make a new report to evaluate the groups’ amendments, given that they substantially expand the reform initially presented.