Spain’s electoral board strips Catalan MP seat following disobedience ruling

Parliament speaker Laura Borràs has vowed to not act until Supreme Court rules on issue

VilaWeb
VilaWeb / Catalan News Agency
20.01.2022 - 17:23
Actualització: 20.01.2022 - 18:23

Spain’s electoral board decided to strip far-left pro-independence CUP MP Pau Juvillà of his seat in the Catalan Parliament following a High Court ruling in December in which he was found guilty of disobedience for not removing yellow ribbons from his office in the Lleida council during an election period. The court handed down a 6-month disqualification from public office as well as a €1.080 fine.

Parliament speaker Laura Borràs vowed to not take action to remove Juvillà, who is also a parliament bureau member, from the chamber until the Supreme Court rules on the appeal that has already been brought forth against this ruling. Juvillà’s case is reminiscent of that of former Catalan president Quim Torra, who was first disqualified by the High Court in a decision that was then back by the electoral board and upheld by the Supreme Court.

Juvillà’s case dates back to the 2019 municipal election period, when Juvillà was a Lleida city council member, and he did not remove yellow ribbons from the CUP office in the town hall. Since late 2017 following the referendum deemed illegal by Spain, yellow ribbons have come to signal solidarity with the formerly jailed independence leaders as well as those who went into exile to avoid being prosecuted for their actions.

President Quim Torra

Ciudadanos, a party that is staunchly against splitting with Spain and that used to be Catalonia’s largest opposition party, lodged a complaint against Juvillà with the electoral board for displaying what they described as partisan symbols during an electoral period. On 3 April 2019, the then-councilor refused to take them down in an act of defiance that led to disobedience charges. The yellow ribbons were eventually taken down by Mossos d’Esquadra police officers.

The public prosecutor had requested an 8-month disqualification from public office as well as a €1,440-fine. Because Juvillà became an MP in the Catalan Parliament following the 14 February election, the case had to be tried in the High Court.

Juvillà is not the first politician to face a similar sentence due to yellow ribbons; in fact, former Catalan president Quim Torra was twice charged with disobedience for hanging symbols in solidarity with pro-independence figures from the government headquarters in Barcelona during election campaign periods. In September 2020, Spain’s Supreme Court upheld the December 2019 Catalan High Court ruling disqualifying Torra for 18 months, the first yellow ribbon ruling against him, effectively removing him from office and handing the presidency to then-vice president Pere Aragonès.

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