The Plenary Session of the Constitutional Court, in a ruling for which Vice President Juan Antonio Xiol was the rapporteur, has upheld the appeal filed by Ciudadanos against the agreements of the Bureau of the Parliament of Catalonia on April 3 and 24, 2018, for which, respectively, admitted the voting delegation of the deputies Carles Puigdemont and Antoni Comín, as well as against the agreements of the same body of April 5 and 25, 2018 that did not attend the request for reconsideration formulated against them.
The High Court examines whether the right to vote for representative public officials can be exercised by delegation. The judgment reaches the conclusion that the principles that establish the prohibition of the imperative mandate and the personal and non-delegable character of the vote are applicable to all representative public positions, including, therefore, regional parliamentarians.
The application of this doctrine determines that article 95 of the Regulations of the Parliament of Catalonia is only in accordance with the Constitution if it is interpreted that this precept, by regulating “what is called delegation of votes, what it is allowing is that in the cases provided for in this rule a deputy can delegate to another who expresses before the chamber, as a mere spokesperson, his vote reliably expressed previously”, that is, “that what is delegated is not the decision on the direction of the vote, but only its expression before the organs of parliament”.
The court considers that “the tenor of the delegation of votes made by Puigdemont and Comín does not conform to the only interpretation of article 95 of the Parliament of Catalonia that allows this rule to be considered in accordance with the Constitution”, since “through this delegation the said deputies conferred to another member of the Chamber the exercise of their right to vote without expressing their meaning, thus breaking the principle of the personality of the vote, which constitutes an insurmountable limit to any voting delegation”.
In addition, the delegation granted, by not specifying the debates in which it could be exercised or its duration, was carried out with a markedly generic nature that is incompatible with the exceptional nature that the delegation must have.
Along with this, it is also argued that the assumption of prolonged incapacity must be understood as referring to “unforeseeable situations, in the sense that they do not depend on the will of the parliamentarian and cannot be dealt with in any other way than with the delegation of the vote.” It affirms, on the other hand, that in “the case under trial, the circumstance in which the person who has voluntarily decided to evade the action of the Spanish criminal jurisdiction and who is subject to a judicial search and arrest warrant and imprisonment is of special importance, as happens with the deputies to whom the Table has allowed to delegate their vote.In this situation, neither the exception to the deliberative principle that the delegation of the vote supposes is proportionate and, obviously, it does not have the purpose of safeguarding other constitutional values that are considered worthy of protection”.
The ruling concludes by stating that the application made by the Bureau of the Parliament’s regulations is not in accordance with article 23 of the Constitution. The court of guarantees considers that, by allowing the deputies to whom the delegation had been granted to determine the meaning of the delegated vote, it violates the principle of personality of the vote.
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