State Council gives green light for PM to appeal Catalan self-rule action

High Court chief prosecutor asks authorities to be on alert for sedition and disobedience

José Luis Ayllón, secretary of state for congressional relations, and Federico de Ramos, deputy chief of staff, seen on Monday at the registry where the government's petition was filed.
José Luis Ayllón, secretary of state for congressional relations, and Federico de Ramos, deputy chief of staff, seen on Monday at the registry where the government's petition was filed.Diego Crespo (EFE)

The State Council gave the go-ahead on Tuesday for the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to file an appeal with the Constitutional Court against the Catalan parliament’s controversial self-rule resolution.

As the political situation continues to heat up in the northeastern region – ignited by pro-independence leaders’ drive for unilateral secession from Spain – the High Court’s chief prosecutor has asked regional and national law enforcement authorities to stay on the alert for any acts of disobedience if the court rules in favor of the central government.

In a unanimous vote by its members, the State Council, which serves as the government’s advisory body, said that there was enough legal backing for Rajoy to challenge the self-rule motion passed on Monday.

The prime minister is expected to call together his Cabinet on Wednesday to discuss the appeal, and has stated that he has every intention of halting the secessionist drive.

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The resolution to create an “independent Catalan state” threatens Spain’s national sovereignty, which resides in “the power of the people as the Constitution states,” the council said.

The State Council also stated that it had found pro-separatists to be trying to assume powers in areas where they have no jurisdiction.

The government’s advisory body reached similar conclusions last year, when it unanimously approved a ruling in favor of appealing the alternative vote on Catalan independence that was planned in the region for November 9, 2014. In the end, an informal non-binding poll went ahead, with the majority of those who voted casting their ballot in favor of independence.

With the backing of the separatist coalition Junts pel Si and the anti-capitalist CUP party, the Catalan parliament approved the resolution on Monday in a 72-63 vote.

The document calls on Catalan lawmakers to draft three new laws within 30 days that would lead to a new Constitution and the creation of a separate social security system and local treasury.

But the most controversial part of the motion are clauses that state that Spain’s Constitutional Court no longer has legitimacy over Catalan affairs.

The High Court has jurisdiction in investigating certain officials who disobey the Constitution

Rajoy formally asked the Council of State for its opinion on Monday, giving it a 24-hour deadline, before deciding whether to file a legal challenge against the secessionist action.

Earlier, the court rejected a suit filed by the Popular Party (PP), Socialists and Ciudadanos to stop the vote from taking place.

Last week, High Court chief prosecutor Javier Zaragoza asked the Catalan regional police force Mossos d’Esquadra, Spain’s National Police and the Civil Guard to report any acts of disobedience or sedition should the Constitutional Court rule in favor of the central government.

Both Junts pel Si – which comprises regional premier Artur Mas’s Democratic Convergence of Catalonia party, the Catalan Republican Left and pro-independence groups – and CUP have said they will press on with their drive even if the separatist motion is put on hold by the Constitutional Court.

In his order, Zaragoza told local and national authorities that any action carried out under “this illegal mandate” by any public official is not “only a crime of sedition but also constitutes a perversion of justice, disobedience, usurpation of duties and misuse of public funds.”

The High Court has jurisdiction in investigating and prosecuting certain officials, who are not entitled to immunity and who disobey the Constitution and the monarchy, the prosecutor said.

English version by Martin Delfín.

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