Prosecution of President of Catalonia’s Parliament provokes international concern and protest
DIPLOCAT – Deputies and political parties from all over Europe express their solidarity and ask for a political solution to the Catalan case
While thousands of citizens have expressed their support in the streets all throughout Catalonia, the Spanish Government’s prosecution of Carme Forcadell, President of the Parliament of Catalonia, for allowing a debate on independence in the Catalan Chamber continues to awake international reaction in the form of messages of solidarity, concern and protest.
Motion at Westminster (UK)
A group of 15 MPs from the Scottish National Party (SNP), the Plaid Cymru and the Irish Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) tabled an ‘Early Day Motion’ to the House of Commons expressing concern over the prosecution of the Parliament’s President, Carme Forcadell. The document, promoted by SNP MP George Kerevan notes that Forcadell “allegedly violated Spanish law for allowing a parliamentary debate on independence”. A situation which “regardless of the constitutional legalities involved” the signers find “regrettable” and warn may set “a dangerous precedent”.
Therefore, the motion calls for the Spanish Government “to reconsider the prosecution” and find “a resolution to its disagreement with the Catalan Parliament through mutual dialogue”. Moreover, Kerevan nuances in a press statement, that Forcadell “did not use her position as Speaker to advocate a position on Catalan independence” but “merely facilitated the democratic process” in a parliament “where there is a clear majority for holding a referendum on independence”.
Several MPs have joined the motion to the present number of 22, some from the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party among them.
Solidarity from Wales
Forcadell’s counterpart in the Welsh Parliament, Elin Jones, expressed her “solidarity” with her “for allowing a democratic debate in the Chamber she presided”. Jones posted it in Catalan on her Twitter profile.
Also Simon Thomas, member of the Welsh Assembly and former Member of the British Parliament, raised a statement of opinion in the Assembly.
Scotland’s two poles
Alex Salmond, former First Minister of Scotland and President of the Scottish National Party and currently an MP at Westminster, said in Brussels that “the case against the President of the Catalan Parliament is generating consternation in the House of Commons”.
Scottish MEP Ian Duncan defended the unionist position in Scotland’s referendum on independence, but he has often pleaded for a dialogued solution of the Catalan case and the right to vote on it. He tweeted the following: “Troubled by developments in #Catalonia. Whatever your views on issue, organising debate in a Parliament can never be a crime. #Time2Talk”.
Ireland: “Attack on democracy”
The Foreign Affairs spokesperson of Irish Republicans Sinn Féin, Seán Crowe, called for the Spanish executive to “reconsider” its position “even at this late stage” and “stop the proceedings” against Forcadell. According to the Irish politician, the Spanish authorities “cannot stifle, ignore, or ban the democratic demands” of the Catalan people and he lamented that the Parliament’s President could be fined and banned from public office for “allegedly violating Spanish law by allowing a Parliamentary debate on altering the Spanish Constitution, in relation to Catalan independence”.
Forcadell “is somehow seen to be guilty of a crime by the Spanish authorities” and “could be subject to debarment from public office and a personal fine”, emphasised Crowe. “This is hugely concerning, is an attack on democracy, and sets a dangerous precedent”, he added and emphasised that prosecuting Forcadell “for facilitating a debate on such an important and popular issue puts at risk the very democratic standards that people hold dear throughout the world”, he added.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams raised the issue of the prosecution of Carme Forcadell in the Irish Dáil (Parliament).
Unanimous interpellation to the Swiss Federal Council
15 members of the Swiss Parliament have tabled an interpellation to the Swiss executive, known as the Federal Council, addressing them the following question: “The Federal Council is prepared to express its concern to the Spanish Government following the initiation of criminal proceedings against the President of the Catalan Parliament and the judicial escalation that seems to hinder a purely peaceful and democratic process?”.
The appeal is signed by 15 MPs from all 6 federal parties: the Swiss Socialist Party (3), the Green Party (1), the Green Liberal Party (1), the Radical Liberal Party (2), the Christian Democratic Party (3) and the Democratic Union of the Centre (5). In developing its question to the Federal Council, the 15 MPs state that the President of the Catalan Parliament is being subject to criminal prosecution for having “allowed a debate in the chamber on an independence referendum in Catalonia.” According to the deputies, this criminal proceedings ” challenge a country like Switzerland, accustomed to the use of direct democracy.” Finally, the MPs encourage “mutual dialogue” and warn that “this criminal procedure contains the seed of discord, which could be avoided through a democratic approach, rather than judicial”.
Hard words from a German MP
The German social-democrat Bernhard von Grünberg, member of the Rhine–North Westphalia State Parliament, also reported the prosecution of Forcadell and the Spanish Government’s judicial response to Catalonia’s pro-independence roadmap. In a letter to different German political leaders, von Grünberg reported to Angela Merkel’s government, the federal Parliaments and the European Chamber that the Spanish Government “is more anti-democratic each day” and that it “systematically fights” Catalonia’s democratic aspirations and has “refused to dialogue”.
According to von Grünberg, the prosecution against Forcadell and that of the judge Santiago Vidal, banned from office for writing a draft of a hypothetical Catalan Constitution in his free time, prove “the rise of deliberate aggression carried out by the Spanish Government”. Thus, he called for the Bundestag president, Norbert Lammert, and that of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, “to take a stance” in order to prevent Spain “from losing its democracy” as has happened in other countries. He also lamented that the Spanish Constitutional Court “should be independent” rather than have its members appointed by political parties.
Denmark’s Minister for FA asked to take stance
Through MP Nikolaj Villumsen (Enhedslisten), the Danish Parliament also asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Anders Samuelseon to take up a stance regarding Forcadell’s prosecution and decide within a week whether the trial is against the petition made be the Danish Parliament which called for a democratic debate between Catalonia and Spain.
Cause/consequence from Swedish perspective
Bodil Valero, Swedish MEP for the Green Party stated: “I find it very difficult to understand how the Spanish government doesn’t see that the more they block Catalonia’s wish to decide their future, the more Catalans want independence”.
Italy: “Political and democratic solution”
Italian MP and founder of the movement Possibile, Giuseppe Civati, warned the Spanish Government that it is “very dangerous” to use the courts to stop the Catalan process and asked them to find a “political and democratic solution rather than a judicial one”. He expressed his support to the President of the Catalan Parliament and underlined that “debates in any Parliament should always be free”.
Slovenia: “worrying” and “outrageous”
MEP Ivo Vajgl (ALDE) from Slovenia stated the following: “It is worrying and damaging for the reputation of Spanish democracy that the speaker of the Catalan parliament Mrs Carme Forcadell is brought to a court for using her authority and for allowing democratic debate in the parliament, elected by the people of Catalonia. Spain as a whole and Catalonia are involved in a very serious debate about their future and should be played by universal rules and language of democracy”.
MEP Igor Soltes (Greens/EFA) referred to the case on Tweeter as an “outrageous procedure”.
Flemish MEP Mark Demesmaeker (ECR) tweeted the support of his party, the NVA.