Elisa de la Nuez, November 28, 2021
The Turó del Drac school in Canet de Mar / EP
Perhaps few questions highlight the weak validity of the rule of law in Catalonia as much as the linguistic issue. As authors such as Joaquim Coll have already explained better than myself, the success of the so-called “linguistic inmersion” identified with the exclusive vehicular use of Catalan in schools is no longer a dogma of faith, but, above all, a huge lie (as many dogmas of faith, by the way). Neither the data support the supposed success of the model nor is it true that there is no social demand for a much more balanced one with a much greater presence of Spanish in teaching; another thing is that the Regional Administration discourages parents from trying to do so. It is difficult to exercise the rights that are recognized to citizens if the Administrations are determined to avoid it. Let us not forget that they enjoy a tremendously privileged legal status precisely because they are supposed to defend general interests against individuals, always in full compliance with the Law according to art. 103 of the Constitution. Hence, when the system is perverted, and for ideological, partisan or any other reasons, the administrative machinery is set in motion against the general interests (which are defined in the legal system) and against certain rights of the citizens we face a very serious problem.
And it is that, let’s not forget, ordinary citizens in a democratic State of law should never become heroes who fight judicially for their rights against an Administration determined not to recognize them at an enormous cost in time, money and even psychological . If an Administration fails us, it is assumed that there are other institutions of control and counterbalance (starting with the autonomous ones and ending with the state ones) to protect us before reaching the courts of justice, when each and every one of them fails us. Unfortunately, in the Catalan case, given the tight political control exercised by the Generalitat over each and every one of the counterweight institutions (think of the Síndic de Greuges) and the withdrawal of the State institutions (think of the useless High Inspection of the State) the only thing that remains is the judicial route.
And when this judicial process, which is slow and expensive, finally bears fruit, it turns out that the regional authorities consider that the final rulings that they do not like may not be fulfilled without anything happening to them. And at worst they are right. And that compliance with the rulings is included in art. 118 of the Constitution in a blunt way: “It is mandatory to comply with the sentences and other final resolutions of the judges and courts, as well as to provide the collaboration required by them in the course of the process and in the execution of the resolution.” But, of course, they must be enforced so that they do not become dead text, which requires, in the absence of voluntary compliance, a forced execution that must be urged by the sentencing court itself. The interesting thing here is that the Government has and uses its legal services to file judicial appeals based on technical reasons, but, when based on equally technical reasons, these appeals are dismissed, they go to the field of ideology, demagoguery or, openly, that of pure and simple illiberalism to proclaim that, in Catalonia, the sentences that annoy them are not being carried out. And it is that perhaps the greatest difference of the independence government with respect to other governments of an illiberal and extreme right stance that are also reluctant to the separation of powers and, ultimately, the democratic rule of law is the self-confidence with which, when they lose in the courts, they proclaim themselves legibus solutus, that is, above the Law, whose ultimate interpretation corresponds to the courts of justice. As you may have guessed, that’s where the term “absolute” or “absolutist” applied to the monarchies of the Old Regime came from.
Let us remember that the final ruling that must be complied with obliges the Generalitat de Cataluña to adopt the measures that are necessary in order to guarantee that, in the teachings included in the Catalan educational system, all students receive effective and immediate education through the normal vehicular use of the two official languages in the percentages to be determined, which may not be less than 25% in both cases. In a normal rule of law, there is nothing more to talk about. However, what has happened is that the regional authorities have come out in a whirlwind to proclaim that they do not intend to comply with it, without the central government (which is a party to the process) showing much enthusiasm for requesting the forced execution, something that can be done, in the absence of voluntary compliance, both by the parties to the process and affected third parties (in this case, citizens with children attending school in Catalonia and the associations that represent them).
And that’s where we stand. It is important to understand that when an individual, but especially an Administration with great power, fails to comply with final court rulings, the ban is removed to deprive us of our right as citizens to effective judicial protection, in the terms provided in art. 24.1 of the Spanish Constitution. Effective, which means that enforcement of sentences cannot be left to the powerful, because that would make them a dead text. That is why it is essential to understand that we cannot allow ourselves to give up demanding the fulfillment of final sentences from those who have the most power, because we are embarking on a path of no return.
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