Spain was wrong to impede Catalan candidate from taking MEP seat, says top lawyer: legal opinion favors Oriol Junqueras seeking immunity from prosecution
POST-ELECTORAL TRAUMA THERAPY: Spain’s Socialist Party struck a “preliminary” coalition deal with the far-left Unidas Podemos to form a government, merely two days after the election. Pedro Sánchez, acting prime minister and leader of the Socialists (PSOE), held a meeting with Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias on Tuesday, and told the press they’d agreed on a “promising and exciting” deal, under which Sánchez remains PM and Iglesias becomes his deputy.
New love is in the air: Spain needs a “stable, solid government,” Sánchez said, after closely embracing Iglesias, very literally. Which doesn’t answer these questions: Why now and not earlier — why first test voters’ trust and lose votes and seats? Most make a mistake once, some twice, but have you ever met a political animal who makes the same error three times? Perhaps a Podemos reduced — from the 42 seats it won in April’s election to 35 now — makes an easier partner.
But but but: The two parties’ numbers don’t add up to a majority. To get the numbers, Sánchez needs those in other parties to vote for him or to abstain.
ONE MORE SPANISH TRAUMA: Spain had no legal right to block a Catalan candidate from taking his seat as a member of the European Parliament by setting additional bureaucratic requirements, as “the parliamentary mandate …. may not be conditional on the completion of any subsequent formality,” according to the EU top court’s advocate general.
What Madrid won’t want to hear: The advocate general’s opinion states that the candidate, Oriol Junqueras — former vice president of Catalonia and a leading advocate of independence — should have enjoyed parliamentary immunity as an MEP from the moment the new European Parliament formally convened in early July.
Rebuke for Madrid: The opinion, issued Tuesday, included a rebuke of the Spanish government — the “subsequent formalities” imposed by Spanish law include taking an oath of allegiance to the Spanish constitution, which Advocate General Maciej Szpunar said “is not a step in the process for election to the European Parliament.” Now on to the uncomfortable messages for Barcelona …
The EU’s top court may not be all-powerful on this: Szpunar noted there were limits to the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the EU because immunity is granted to MEPs in accordance with national law, and identified legal gaps that indeed allowed for Junqueras to be convicted and sentenced in Spain without the European Parliament being asked to decide if it was appropriate to lift immunity. Szpunar’s opinion is a prelude to a full CJEU ruling in the case, expected within several weeks. David Herszenhorn has the story.
Legal opinion favors Oriol Junqueras seeking immunity from prosecution.
Updated 11/13/19, 6:18 PM CET