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About Mentat

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  1. The Government can request the Constitutional Court judge if a law or legal disposition adheres to the Constitution or not, and to suspend the application of said law if they think their case has merit (so can the Catalan Parliament, mind you, and it has in many occasions when it considered the Spanish government over-limited its attributions). The PP government recently modified the law to allow the Constitutional Court to fine those who don't abide by its rulings. The members of the Court themselves weren't too happy about this (and apply it sparingly). I agree that, recently, the Constitutional Court (after criticising the government in several occasions for not being able to find a political solution to this crisis) has 'taken upon itself' to play a political role in the Catalan secession challenge. Many of its recent rulings show this. This is something that can be criticized (both the Court deciding to do this and the government abdicating its responsibilities so that the Court was put in this position), though I feel they weren't given much of a choice. Most all Spanish institutions, amongst them the King, consider the secession challenge a crisis of the State, and think something must be done about it. I think in this case the Constitutional Court felt this duty should fall to the Government and it should be resolved through political means, but the Government proved unwilling or unable (or both...) to do it, and the hot potato fell on the Court's lap. Though their interests might be basically aligned, though, the agency of the Constitutional Court is not identical to that of the government (it might care for the unity of Spain, but it doesn't care how well the PP will fare in the next election, for instance). The Constitutional Court never rules over criminal cases and can't put people in prison (preventive or otherwise). All this is done by the Criminal Courts (the members of which are not chosen by the government or parliament). I personally disagree with a lot of their rulings, but again, I think accusations of collusion must be substantiated in order to be taken seriously. I feel right now, the goal of the government is a return to normalcy, and the goal of the pro-secession parties is to avoid this (as it would be seen as 'giving up'). That's why, despite there being many other available candidates, they refuse to nominate someone who isn't in exile or prison. They say they're tired of Spanish intervention, but they refuse to take what would be a relatively easy way out. This means there's no end in sight to the conflict.
  2. The Government of Spain is in full interventionist mode, and is currently trying to force a 'return to normalcy' by whatever means possible. As I said in a previous post, it's ignoring issues of legality when it has to, which is troubling (but something both sides in this conflict seem to resort to when they consider it serves their best interest). Whether it's what they should be doing or not is a matter of opinion (there are quite a few Spaniards who consider the government has been excessively lenient and thus ineffectual), but the government itself seems pretty convinced. I personally agree with the goal, though not with the means (especially because some of the people who are in prison are held preventively on extremely flimsy grounds). The lack of independence of the Spanish justice system is a recurrent sound bite of people who favour independence, and not one I agree with. Members of the Constitutional Court (which judges exclusively laws and legal dispositions, but never people, and is not strictly a part of the justice system) are elected by 2/3 of the Parliament, but once elected its members can't be removed, and it has a long history of finding against the government in important cases. The Catalan secessionist challenge may be legitimate from a democratic point of view, but it's most certainly contrary to the constitution. It's ridiculous to expect the court would find any other way than what it has. The imprisonment of certain Catalan politicians and activist on extremely flimsy grounds is something I don't agree with from a legal or moral standpoint, but I disagree that it was instigated by the government (often it has happened at times that were extremely inconvenient from a political point of view, and has just added fuel to the fire and been in detriment of the governments efforts to return to a normal political scenario). Judges are generally conservative, and always very defensive of the law and constitution, and quite a lot of Spaniards are very weary of and opposed to the Catalan secessionist movement. It's no surprise to me that they have been extremely harsh. Undue influence by the government and collusion is an allegation that needs some kind of proof. Pretending that a decision (or number of decisions) by a judge that we don't agree with proves that the justice system isn't independent is flawed logic.
  3. Spanish press is still rather sceptical about it this (which doesn't mean it won't happen...). The Spanish government has declared that it will not cease the region's intervention if they elect a president who is currently in jail, and ERC doesn't seem totally on board with the idea (though they're trying to keep the negotiations under wraps, so it's hard to say for sure). One also has to question the suitability of the candidate. Though he's a professor of political science, he has no previous experience in government and hasn't been a member of any of the major parties in Catalan politics until his inclusion in Junts per Catalunya's list for the most recent regional elections (as an independent, and, in my opinion, mainly for the shock value of his imprisonment and the strong social rejection of said imprisonment by most Catalans).
  4. This seems by far like the more likely scenario. The pro-independence parties know the Spanish government won't tolerate a second Puigdemont presidency, and I don't think they have the stomach for another clash like the one that provoked autonomy intervention in the first place. An alternative president with no entanglements with justice will be elected (La Vanguardia has its bets on Elsa Artadi) and Puigdemont will stay in Brussels as an unofficial 'President in Exile' nominated by an self-appointed assembly of independence supporters. To me the whole affair seems pretty ludicrous. The level of twisting (or completely disregarding) legality by both sides is appalling. Dark days for democracy
  5. The Public Prosecutor can request that the judge do so, but it's not up to him. La Vanguardia (my Catalan newspaper of choice BTW ) doesn't think it's likely. That said, it's certainly not impossible. We can wait and see.
  6. I really don't think CUP will back down from their positions and start compromising. They need to fight their electoral ground with Esquerra and stick to their identity. They lost 6 seats in the last election. To me it was mainly because both Junts per Catalunya and Esquerra have become more radical and have thus taken over much of CUP's turf. Lots of Catalan voters in favor of independence have turned to the bigger, stronger parties as the more 'useful' vote. I really don't think whoever is the decision-maker in this (a Supreme Court magistrate, I guess) will reinstate the EAW. It would be a really stupid mistake. I do think Puigdemont will be arrested if he returns. MP immunity won't help (he was already an MP when he fled). The Spanish government won't accept an 'in absentia' nomination. If it does happen it might be the 155 all over again. For the parties that favor independence it would be much easier to just nominate someone else, but it would be a symbolical defeat, so they'd initially be loathe to.
  7. Junts per Catalunya want to make Carles Puigdemont president again. The problem is that he's currently in Belgium, so unless he returns (which he doesn't want to do because he fears he'd be arrested) they'd have to make him president 'in absentia'. Esquerra Republicana has been shuffling its feet around about this. It's apparently against the Catalan parliament's own rules (according to their lawyers) and Spain has threatened to take new punitive measures if the rule is disregarded. Esquerra currently holds the presidency of the regional government house (in the person of Roger Torrent), so he'd hold the main responsibility (and he has reasons to worry; the previous president of the house, Carmen Forcadell, has had to resign from all political responsibilities because her lawyer said it would undermine her legal defence). Meanwhile, CUP (whose 4 votes are needed) say that they will only invest a president if they're given guarantees that they will continue the unilateral secession from Spain without dialogue or compromise (though they'd presumably be happy with Puigdemont, whom I think currently represents the more militant wing of Junts per Catalunya). It's a difficult situation. I'm guessing a notable part of Junts per Catalunya and Esquerra would rather tone the independence discourse down (if only for a while) after the lack of international support the short lived Catalan Republic got and the aggressive response by Spain, but this would not sit well at all with CUP (who have already harshly criticised Roger Torrent's conciliatory tone when he took possession of his position as head of the regional government house). It's anyone's guess what will happen in the next few months.
  8. According to the Spanish press, the reason is that the Spanish court doubted that the Belgian court would appreciate the existence of the crime of rebellion (which isn't in the Belgian penal code) and thus, if they were extradited, the Spanish court could not judge them for it. It has now decided to wait for them to return to Spain (which presumably they will do at some point, as they're standing for elections) and arrest them then. It seems silly to me to be so eager to judge them for rebellion, as it seems very difficult they will be convicted due to the lack of violence of the independence process. Misuse of public authority, misallocation of public funds and disobeying a court order are the only three charges I think have any chance of sticking. Anyway, you can send the Spanish state the bill, but it shouldn't be all that high
  9. I heard this on the Catalan radio. It's absolutely disgusting and beyond-the-pale unprofessional. Hopefully it will be looked into. Agreed on all accounts. I read that article you linked and I found it very interesting. I think it's very true that Spanish courts are over-reaching and doing themselves, Spain, Catalonia and the rule of law they are supposed to uphold a disservice. A longer prosecution without preemptive prison based on lesser but more accurate charges (like disobedience or prevarication) and ending in a prison sentence that was less than 2 years (and as such would not be served for a first offender) and a prohibition from holding public office for a number of years would be much more proportionate and effective and far less politically damaging for Spain.
  10. It really isn't. We can look at the judgment against the Catalan Statute of Autonomy (which I agree is an unfortunate judgment) or the recent judgments on the independence procedure (though I'd argue that the Catalan government was purposefully and knowingly violating the Constitution because it considered it had a mandate of the Catalan people to do so, so these judgments aren't at all surprising) and think so, but if we bother to look back at all, we can find plenty of occasions in which, as I said, the Constitutional Court has ruled in favor of the regions (including Catalonia) and against the government. One of the most important judgments of the Constitutional Court (from a legal point of view) is this one, which is a good example.
  11. I don't think Carme Forcadell (the president of the Catalan parliament) is being prosecuted right now (she's being investigated), but she could be very shortly (she will be giving a statement before the magistrate at some point today). She is, indeed, part of the legislative. There is no Catalan criminal legislation; all criminal legislation is Spanish. Also, much of the legislation you refer to had been declared unconstitutional by the Spanish Constitutional Court, and its validity had been suspended. I agree the crimes of rebellion and sedition seem archaic. What is more, as they're written in the Spanish criminal code, I really don't think any of the members of the Catalan parliament are guilty of either of them (as they require some element of violence). As European citizens, they can appeal to the ECHR (and almost certainly will, if the case doesn't go their way). The short answer is that the government doesn't nominate judges. The long answer is pretty long, but here goes: The Spanish Constitutional Court is a mostly political body. Of its 12 members, 2 are nominated directly by the government, 8 are nominated by the 2 houses of parliament (4 each) by a 3/5ths qualified majority (which no single arty can usually muster) and the remaining 2 are nominated by the General Judiciary Council (a governing body for judges and magistrates, which is also mostly political). Nominees must have a legal background (judges, lawyers, etc.), more than 15 years experience and renown in their field. That said, the Constitutional Court judges laws and regulations, never people. It isn't truly part of the judiciary (though it has the same guarantees of independence), and is often referred to as the 'negative legislator' or 'third house of parliament'. Though the political nature of the Constitutional Court is unquestionable, it bears saying it has often ruled against the government and in favor of the regions (and in important cases too). Judges and Magistrates are people who have a degree in law and that have passed an extremely demanding public exam (studying for it is almost like getting a second degree). Once you're a judge, you can become a magistrate through seniority or through passing yet another public exam. Judges and magistrates are independent of the government, and certainly not named by them. They have legal guarantees of their impartiality and independence. Of course, this doesn't mean they don't have biases, political sympathies, or that they don't occasionally make wrong or stupid decisions. They're just independent of the government. I think it would be desirable to end the excessive political nature of both the Constitutional Court and the General Judiciary Council, but despite this, the judiciary in Spain is reasonably impartial and independent (and considered as such by most all international bodies that look into this kind of thing, like the UN or the Venice Commission). I agree prosecuting the Catalan government is neither particularly smart nor particularly fair, but as I said, this is not up to Rajoy (in fact, if it was he'd probably at least delay the whole thing until after the regional elections, for very obvious political reasons).
  12. The legal ramifications of this are complicated. I don't think anyone is actually being prosecuted for their actions in a legislative body. Catalan politicians are being prosecuted for their actions as a part of the Catalan government (i.e. the administration, or the executive). As a member of the administration it's actually easy to be prosecuted, and there are quite a few crimes that you can only commit as a member of the administration (like taking bribes, corruption, etc.). Catalan politicians represent the will of the Catalan people, but that doesn't mean they can break the law. Prosecuting Puigdemont is a terrible idea, and will help no one, but the problem is that, despite what some might say, Spain does have a reasonably independent judiciary (as is evident by the many cases of corruption that prosecutors and judges have been hammering the ruling party with for the last decade) which is not under control of the government (otherwise the government would probably delay the whole thing, if only because the timing is awful if they mean to do well in the regional elections in December). Judges (even Catalan judges) don't really like Catalan nationalists (and they don't like judges either, as was made evident by the laws they passed trying to bring all the judiciary under the control of the government in the event of a republic). This is mostly because judges are lawful, either because they were to begin with and that's what drew them to the career or because they are taught to think like that in law school and Catalan nationalists are chaotic, valuing their principles above the law and freely going against Spanish law and court orders despite being warned countless times by courts and parliament attorneys. Someone in the UN might have said that (there are lots of people in the UN, with a great diversity of opinions) but the UN as such is probably not going to intervene, which is a pity, because I think it would really help if he UN or the EU put their foot down and insisted on some kind of mediation. If you have more specific questions about Spanish law I can try to help, though Criminal law is not my area of expertise.
  13. I think that theory of how Spaniards vote is not very likely. The PP absolute majority in the 2011-2015 government term (which it now lacks) was, in my opinion, mainly a result of the economic crisis (which Zapatero was considered to be mishandling). Rajoy did fall hard on the last election. The PP lost more than 60 seats, despite tensions in Catalonia and the nationalists' demands mounting like never before in Spanish history. Also, Spanish democracy is very young and has actually proven to be quite unpredictable, I don't really think you can accurately establish trends like that. If I happen to be wrong, I recommend the following strategy: All the catalan nationalists have to do is say "Nah, we don't actually want independence. In fact, all these devolved attributions should probably be handled by Madrid instead. We kind of suck at it. Also, this Catalan language is quaint and all, but we're probably all better off speaking Spanish, which everyone understands". Then, when Podemos wins the general elections by an absolute majority they say "BWAHAHAHA! Fools! You believed it! We want independence and we want it right now! Lets see if you're as good as your word President Iglesias". You can all thank me for this marvelous idea with a holiday home in Costa Daurada. You're welcome Also, the Spanish government can't really push for more centralization right now. They lack the votes. They'd have to agree with PSOE (and they never agree on anything) or PNV (who will agree to more centralization over their dead bodies).
  14. I think it's a mistake to conflate the Rajoy government with an absolute majority and in the middle of an economic crisis with the Rajoy government without enough votes to comfortable pass a budget and in a much more comfortable economic situation. The pro-independence parties have also flexed their muscles greatly in the last year. That said, your speculation is as good as mine. The Catalan nationalists may prefer Pedro Sánchez to Rajoy, but they blocked his attempt at becoming president in 2015, and again 'referendum or referendum' was the issue they refused to back down on and Pedro Sánchez (and Ciudadanos, who were supporting him back then) wouldn't agree with under any circumstance. I'm aware that some articles of the Constitution are easier to modify than others (I have a background in Spanish law). The articles relevant to this particular issue are the hard ones to modify. I do not think the Constitution should be immutable either and, personally, agree that the PSOEs Federal proposal (and this isn't only PSC, I heard it from Sanchez's mouth first, myself) seems like a good way to compromise (and Catalan nationalists have always had a working relationship with PSOE PMs). I agree it's very hard for independence to find purchase in the Spanish parliament, but if we're talking about a better financial deal or more devolution, then I disagree. Catalan nationalists just chose the worst possible moment (a PP government with an absolute majority in the middle of a terrible economic crisis) forced by their own economic troubles. A more confident, charismatic and left wing president and Catalan nationalists might yet be able to agree on some sort of non-binding public consultation involving choosing between an increased devolution and better financing or independence, but just like Cameron or the Canadian president, they have to like their chances, and political tension needs to deflate.
  15. To your first paragraph: The Constitutional Court declared illegal parts of a Statute of Autonomy that had been agreed between the Spanish central government and Catalan regional government, and that got an overwhelming support both by the Catalan parliament and the Catalan people in a referendum. I won't argue constitutional legality with the Court, but to me it was a pretty big deal in terms of democracy and how we interpret laws, and it's hard to argue it started this shit-storm. To your second paragraph: Are you sure? For a private citizen that hasn't received a specific court mandate? Can you provide a legal article or citation for that? To your third paragraph: I read the legal decision to deny them bail, and while it's sound on paper I do agree with some Catalan people that have argued that the crime of sedition could apply to many acts (like demonstrating in front of a house to prevent the police from executing a court order to evict a person who can't pay his rent or whose house has been seized by the bank) which have been relatively frequent in Spain in the last years and where no one has (to my knowledge) been prosecuted (and people like the current mayor of Barcelona could have been). To me it's hard to argue that there isn't a strong political element to this particular prosecution. To your fourth paragraph: Most men (and women) I admire don't 'take things like a man'. They strive to change the things they disagree with and find unjust, rather than accepting them. I agree the Basque country shouldn't have a privileged fiscal status, but depriving them of it now seems like such a political recipe for disaster (I suspect, unlike yourself, many Basques of either gender won't be happy to take it like a man) I think extending it to other regions that want it (together with more devolution) might be a viable solution.