The lawyers of Congress reject limiting the inviolability of the King

The lawyers of Congress have ratified their position and have once again considered that it is not constitutionally viable to limit the inviolability of the King. The position, highlighted this Monday in an ex officio report from the legal services of the Lower House, will serve the PSOE, PP and Vox this Tuesday to block the latest PNV proposal that was to be addressed this Tuesday to modify that article provided for in the Constitution with a change in the Organic Law of the Judiciary. PSOE, PP and Vox have seven of the nine components of the Congress Table and will reject this proposal from the start, which will not reach the Board of Spokespersons, where it would have more support.

The report of the general secretary of the Congress leaves no room for many doubts, but it does leave room for debate. The lawyer points out that “article 56.3 of the Constitution establishes that the person of the King is inviolable and is not subject to responsibility. His acts will always be endorsed in the manner established in article 64, lacking validity without said endorsement, except as provided in article 65.2. (appoint and separate the members of Your House), even though the regulation that is intended, limiting the figure of inviolability, as configured in the PNV Law Proposal, would be contrary to it, for invading the existing constitutional reservation regarding the essential elements of the Crown defined in Title II of the Constitution itself.” The senior lawyer of the Chamber concludes that for these reasons the admission for processing of this initiative is not appropriate.

Parliamentary sources familiar with this debate point out that the PNV’s idea of ​​placing the appraisals of all the components of the King’s House in the Supreme Court should also be rejected based on “a constitutional reservation in relation to a Law of the Crown”, which was never been addressed by any government or legislature.

The PNV spokesman, Aitor Esteban, presented on June 7 a bill to modify the norm that regulates the functioning of the Judicial Power in Spain since 1985, in the midst of a whirlwind of news about the temporary return of the king emeritus to Spain to participate in some regattas in Sanxenxo (Pontevedra), after almost two years residing in Abu Dhabi, to try to reduce the institutional tension over various scandals and controversies during his time as head of the King’s House. Esteban took advantage of that appearance to underline that in the constituent period a good and detailed regulation of the operation of the head of state was not faced or was not wanted to be faced, and considered that now it is “urgent” to apply some legal changes to clarify some gaps that could suppose , if the King commits a crime, “the discredit and decline of the monarchical institution”, an expression that he recovered from the former politician and constitutionalist Óscar Alzaga.

The initiative of the PNV to modify the organic law of the Judiciary consists, in theory, simply in retouching article 55 of that norm to define it in a broader and more complete way. Article 55.bis of the Law of the Judiciary attributes to the Civil and Criminal Chambers of the Supreme Court “the processing and prosecution of civil and criminal actions, respectively, directed against the Queen consort or the Queen’s consort.” , the Princess or Prince of Asturias and their spouse, as well as against the King or Queen who has abdicated and their spouse. Point 2 that the PNV proposes to add specifies that those same Supreme Court chambers “will also hear civil and criminal actions directed against the King or Queen during the exercise of their office, in acts not subject to endorsement and that have no relation with the institutional functions of the Head of State.

Article 56 of title II of the 1978 Constitution establishes, however, that “the person of the King is inviolable and is not subject to responsibility. His acts will always be endorsed in the manner established in article 64, lacking validity without said endorsement, except as provided in article 65.2”.

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Institutional mismatch

The Basque leader maintains that there is an “institutional mismatch” and a “too extensive interpretation” of the inviolability of the monarch in the Magna Carta, and considers that the time has come to modulate this situation with what is established by international legislation and other monarchies of our environment. In his statement of reasons, Esteban justifies the registration now of that proposal in the face of “the absence of a law of the Crown that defines more precisely the constitutional interpretation that must be carried out.” And he concludes that “inviolability, as it has been interpreted until today, generates a serious institutional maladjustment.”

The Table of the Congress must qualify and decide this Tuesday if it accepts the processing of that proposal of the PNV to favor its debate, in any case, from the next period of sessions, which would already begin after the summer, from September. The PNV, in addition, does not have a quota to introduce bills in all the plenary sessions and more than likely that initiative would not be seen until the fall. Before that meeting tomorrow, the lawyers have prepared an ex officio report in which they once again emphasize the inviolable condition of the monarch according to the Constitution.

Sources from the leadership of the parliamentary groups of the PSOE and the PP waited until Monday to hear that technical report from the Chamber’s legal services to justify their rejection of the PNV bill.

Other initiatives

It’s not the first time it’s happened, far from it. The governing body of Congress already rejected last September a similar initiative presented then by Más País and Compromís, regular partners as well as the PNV of the coalition government in many votes, to better define the inviolability of the King. Then the PSOE, PP and Vox, with a majority in the Table, also blocked that proposal, arguing that the lawyers considered it to be of “doubtful constitutionality.” And in February 2021 the Plenary ruled out an initiative to revoke that inviolability, in that case of ERC, endorsed by United We Can, with 278 votes against (79% of the Chamber, including those of PSOE, PP, Vox, Citizens and Unión del Pueblo Navarro) against only 74 deputies in favor (Podemos, ERC, Junts, PNV, EH Bildu, Más País, Compromís and BNG).

Gerardo Pisarello, a member of the Table for United We Can, already openly questioned that body’s behavior: “The Table of Congress is not the Constitutional Court.” And he stressed that he should only reject proposals of this kind on very few occasions because it would have to be precisely the Constitutional Court that determined that alleged irregularity. In United We Can already backed that More Country initiative and now they also wanted it to prosper, like other usual allies in many votes consulted by EL PAÍS.

Sources from ERC, EH Bildu, JuntsxCAT or the PDeCAT advanced that they would cast their votes if the matter prospered after passing through the filter of the Table and reached the Board of Spokespersons. From JuntsxCAT it was specified that, in addition to supporting the new attempt by the PNV and despite not wanting to know anything that has to do with the Government of Spain, the behavior in these cases of the PSOE and the progressive government of vetoing all kinds of investigation commissions on the King and the monarchy, which they describe as “corrupt”. From the PDeCAT it was indicated that they are in favor of withdrawing the inviolability of the monarch and that it seems “reasonable that, with all the necessary procedural guarantees, all the authorities respond equally before the Law.”

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