Last Friday we were witness to an enormous democratic irregularity. The fact that the Speaker of the House, whoever they may be, is called to testify before a court for holding a parliamentary debate and a subsequent vote highlights the democratic failings of a state with serious problems when it comes to accepting its internal plurality and in dealing with political conflicts in the only way they can be solved: politically.
What is happening is not a problem involving a sole individual, or even a political movement: it is a grave democratic problem. As a result, more and more people are raising their voices against this unstoppable judicialisation of politics. This is happening in Catalonia, in Spain and also in the rest of Europe, as shown by the recent comments by British, Swiss, Italian and German MPs, among others.
It is crucial that this consensus surrounding the defence of fundamental rights is maintained and amplified; and also that the greatest number of foreign political representatives are aware of the undemocratic attacks which are occurring in Spain.
All those who hold political office realise that during this thrilling time for our country, we can see ourselves becoming embroiled, very much against our will, in legal proceedings that appear incomprehensible in the eyes of many. And precisely because we are aware of what is going on, there is no point in us feeling sorry for ourselves for a single moment.
This does not mean that it isn’t vital that we continually protest the legal persecution of debates and ideas —as often as necessary— when it affects Parliament, and also many other institutions and elected officials. But it is even more important that we determinedly and enthusiastically move ahead to ensure that the Parliament of Catalonia, the institution that represents national sovereignty, can accommodate all the debates which take place on the street. With the greatest degree of plurality and while always taking into account every opinion. Such a diverse country could not operate in any other way. Since defending the MPs’ freedom of expression and their right to take decisions is not limited only to certain groups and ideas, but the chamber as a whole. This wealth is a treasure that must be preserved, but in order to do so, no idea must be excluded from Parliament.
We know that it is more than likely that this constant judicialisation of politics, in which the executive uses the courts to restrict Parliament’s right to hold free debates, will not only continue, but increase. We know that in the short period of time that has passed since the inception of the so-called Operation Dialogue (1) we have seen the confirmation of Santi Vidal’s suspension from office and the decision to proceed in the case against MP Francesc Homs, while the lawsuit against former Spanish minister Jorge Fernández for conspiring to smear his political opponents has been shelved.
We are aware that there are people who are irritated when certain issues are spoken about, debated and voted on. They are the same people who are irritated by speaking, debating and voting.
We know that some individuals are not content with suspending and annulling laws passed by the Parliament of Catalonia, the majority of which are aimed at improving the Catalan publics’ social rights and quality of life; instead they wish for Parliament to practice self-censorship and for the Speaker of the House to become an organ of censorship. But this is not going to happen.
In spite of everything, however, we know that the threats we will not force us to retreat. That the MPs’ freedom of expression and the freedom to take decisions must be maintained at all times. That no court can prevent Parliament from discussing independence or whatever else the MPs see fit. And that Parliament will never cease to carry out its duties.
Therefore, when I look back I am more convinced than ever of my actions. I say this calmly and with humility, and the conviction of having acted in accordance with my duties as Speaker of the House. Because any other course of action would have been a direct attack on the very principles we stand for.
We must also be aware that seamless solidarity with the people and elected officials who have been affected by this judicialisation is vital in order to confront the onslaught which is coming. United in diversity and in defence of democracy.
Therefore, in spite of the hardships that will come, we need to look to the future with optimism and the conviction that Catalonia’s future will be decided by the Catalans, and not by a court of law. And, whatever their decision, democracy will have won.
(1) “Operation Dialogue” is an attempt by Spain’s PP government to appear as if it were finally willing to address some of the Catalan government’s demands.