How long does it take to read a text (the Catalan government's decree, announced on Saturday September 27, 10.30 am), call a cabinet meeting to ask the Council of State ...
... to issue report, for the Council of State to meet, discuss the drafted and agree on the text, deliver it to the government, for the government to reaf and discuss the text, decide to challenge the decree, present the appeal to the Constitutional Court, for the Court to convene and agree to accept the appeal and, automatically, stop the process in its tracks? Mark my words, if Spain were a democratic country where the division of powers and the autonomy of each institution were respected...
(a) institutions other than the Spanish government would refuse to be drawn into what is a political, but not a legal clash (let's face it), and
(b) this would takes several weeks, at the very, very least. Time, literally, will provide an answer!
And Europe will turn a blind eye.
Well, I'm writing the second part of this post on Tuesday, 69 hours after the Decree was signed. Since then the Spanish government called, on Saturday afternoon, for a report on the decree and the law it is based on, from the Council of State, which hastily studied the decree (it already knew the text of the law), drafted this report, met on Sunday (its thirty-plus members, some into their eighties, presumably live all over Spain), adopted the report, sent it to the government, that met especially on Monday morning to agree to challenge the law and the decree, filed it at midday before the Constitutional Court, that met especially in the afternoon (again, its members presumably live throughout Spain) to accept the challenge and to paralyse both the vote and all relevant moves to prepare it.
There is a Spanish expression, and other languages, I am sure, have an equivalent: "Las cosas de palacio van despacio". More or less, officialdom is excruciatingly slow. Well it does apply in this case.
This case has broken all records, revealing clearly that Madrid (the establishment, the machinery, not the city or its inhabitants!) is scared out of its wits, yet instead of trying, even at this late hour, to negotiate a way out, it is locked into a confrontation mode that augurs a further turn of the rack on the Catalans. As a people, who three years in a row have taken part in massive, historic demonstrations for independence. Today, at 7 pm local time, thousands will gather in front of the town halls across the country to witness the start of the campaign for a double Yes vote!
The speed with which these complex steps have been made shows, moreover, that both the Council of State (or at least a few members of it) and the Constitutional Court bow before the will of the Spanish government to hastily toss a spanner in the works of the Catalan authorities. TIn doing so they have shown that they are anything but independent bodies.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the law and the decree are Constitutional and legal. What has been said about their content in Madrid makes it abundantly clear that they simply haven't read the text. And whatever they seem to have read between the lines cannot centre the Constitutional court's judgment. What may sway its members however, because they are only human, is the hysterical shrieking in righteous indignation over Catalonia that has been piercing their eardrums through most of the Madrid press for fully two years.
And on the receiving end, this evening at 7, thousands of tax-paying, law-abiding citizens and their families will answer the grassroots summons and gather in front of their town halls to proclaim their right to vote freely. Over 90% of these local councils have adopted motions in the past week, supporting the holding of the November 9th non-binding referendum.
This is a revolution. Call it velvet, call it flowers, call it what you will. It is almost certainly the greatest, most vigorous show of faith in democracy and the power of the people that Europe has seen since at least the fall of the Berlin wall.
p.s. Just a small detail. The Constitutional Court shredded the 2006 Statute of Autonomy in its 2010 judgment. However, much to the dismay of the right-wing nationalist newspaper ABC, ("El TC permite la celebración de consultas populares en Cataluña"), it found no fault whatsoever with article 122, which provides the legal basis for both the Act and the Decree. The Court repeated its view in a more recent judgment, so its judgment this time should be short and sharp (despite the whines of the Spanish government)!