Aleix Mercader, 2 July 2022
The annulment of the 2019 electoral decree leaves all the agreements of the plenary session up in the air and calls into question even the continuity of the management team.
The annulment of the decree that regulated the elections of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce in 2019 has plunged the institution into a legal crossroads. The ruling of the High Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC), which ratifies a previous position of the Supreme Court, leaves up in the air the legality of the controversial agreements adopted by the local business promotion entity in its last plenary session.
What’s more, the high court’s ruling opens the door to the appointment of a management team by order of the Generalitat to run the Chamber until the next call to the polls. If these elections are not brought forward to comply with the magistrates’ ruling, something that the Regional Ministry of Enterprise has ruled out for the moment.
Legal sources have outlined several scenarios following the court ruling. The most likely scenario involves the amendment of the decree calling for elections and the possible appointment of a provisional administration until the next elections are held. This process could coincide in time with the election day scheduled for May 2023.
Staff Pavillon, the company that appealed against the electoral decree that has resulted in the final order of the TSJC, recognise that they are studying the request for the execution of this resolution. Any step in this direction adds more pressure on the Department of Enterprise since, as the supervisory body of the public law corporation, it is the one who must decide what steps to take to comply with the court order. The autonomous government is the actor that oversees the 13 Catalan chambers of commerce since the last regulatory reform of these organisations, as a spokesperson for the Ministry of Industry has clarified in response to queries from this newspaper.
Challenging the agreements
On the other hand, several members of the plenary analyse whether the new scenario that has drawn the ruling of the TSJC has led to challenge the decisions of the plenary – they highlight the accession to the Council for the Republic of the fugitive Puigdemont, the reduction of the so-called silver chairs and the removal of the crown of the institutional shield -. If the actions of the entity’s management team, led by the pro-independence Eines de País candidacy sponsored by the Assemblea Nacional Catalana (ANC), violate the “criterion of prudence” that should be observed after the interlocutory injunction.
“From now on, all decisions can be challenged. The resolution demonstrates that the security of the vote was violated in 2019, and that a crime was therefore committed,” the same legal interlocutors point out. Therefore, “the resulting decisions are not subject to the principle of legality” and one battle after another can be fought in the courts to annul their effects.
The ball is in the Govern’s court
In addition to the legal marking of the Chamber, the Generalitat also has a lot to say. First of all, it has two months to publish the resolution in the Official Journal of the Government of Catalonia (DOGC) and draw up a new decree to call elections to replace the one annulled by the courts. The department assures that they are already working on it.
As Crónica Global reported, the ministry limits the material effects of the ruling to the drafting of a decree that corrects the defects of the previous regulation. “It is necessary to specify that neither this interlocutory ruling nor the initial pronouncement of the TSJC on this case makes any mention of the electoral process already held or its outcome,” said spokespersons for the area of government headed by Roger Torrent (ERC). This decision has generated unease among critics of the ANC’s political use of the Barcelona Chamber. “If you annul the electoral law, it affects the electoral procedure,” they say.
An ideologised entity
They consider that the actions of the last week of the chamber, which have deepened the ideologisation of the entity, further urges the Government to assume a proactive attitude in the dispute. “The Generalitat can either maintain a framework of legal uncertainty or it can decide that there should be legal certainty in the community to know that the elections will be held with clear and certain rules of the game”, summarises another of the critics forcefully.
They point out that both the TSJC and the Supreme Court have rejected all the appeals presented by the Generalitat, an amendment to the Government’s strategy to shield the ANC at the head of the economic entity despite the cheating that has been certified to have taken place in the 2019 elections. For now, the ministry is gaining time.