The PP threatens to propose an unprecedented institutional clash in Spain and that goes against what the Constitution provides. Alberto Núñez Feijóo’s party will try to block the processing of the amnesty law in the Senate. To do this, it will use its majority on the Board and refuse to “qualify” the norm (admit it for processing) even though it will already be endorsed by Congress. This was stated this Tuesday by sources from the PP leadership. A situation unknown until now in recent democratic history: that one of the two chambers that make up the Cortes Generales prevents a law approved by the other from passing the filter of the Table.
The parliamentary spokesperson for the PP, Cuca Gamarra, appeared this Tuesday to assure that her party will oppose the “qualification” of the amnesty law in the Congressional Committee. That is, Feijóo’s party will reject the proposal outright as “unconstitutional.” The governing body of the Lower House has done so on other occasions, for example with the investigation commissions on Juan Carlos de Borbón or matters related to the monarchy.
Gamarra has assured that the rule is contrary to the Constitution, as determined in 2021 by the Chamber’s lawyers on a proposed amnesty law presented by the Catalan independentists. Although both texts are different, the PP maintains that an amnesty law is unconstitutional in itself, beyond what its articles establish.
After the press conference, the PP leadership maintained that the party will maintain the same position in the Senate as they will vote in Congress. And in the Senate they have an absolute majority, so they could block and prevent the processing of the law.
The Senate Regulations ensure in its article 36, section c, that it is the responsibility of the Board to “qualify, in accordance with the Regulations, the writings and documents of a parliamentary nature, as well as decide on their admissibility and processing.”
PSOE sources in the Senate assure elDiario.es that it is impossible to do what the PP intends. “The qualification is a procedure,” these sources point out. And if the Board actually refused to do so, they continue, after the 20-day deadline, the rule would be published in the BOE as it had come out of Congress. This is stated in the Constitution in the third section of its article 90: “The period of two months that the Senate has to veto or amend the project will be reduced to twenty calendar days in projects declared urgent by the Government or by Congress. of the Deputies.”
Express reform of the Regulation
It is not the only maneuver that the PP will use in the Senate against the amnesty law and that clashes with what the Constitution states. Despite wailing for weeks to protest against the express reform of the Congress Regulations approved by the PSOE, Sumar and seven other parliamentary groups and allowing the use of official languages other than Spanish in the Plenary Session, Feijóo’s party made a change this Tuesday similar in the Upper House.
The modification by Congress was called undemocratic for not having counted on them for the review. But now the same PP has used its roller in the Senate to change its regulations expressly and unilaterally to slow down the approval of the amnesty law and, incidentally, introduce for the first time the appearances of the president and the ministers before the Chamber High.
The PP accused the president of Congress, Francina Armengol, of being “outside the law” when the reform of the Chamber’s Regulations was processed in August. “We do not agree that it should be done as a single or urgent reading,” said the general secretary, Cuca Gamarra. “It affects legal security and the rights of parliamentarians,” she noted, concluding that it was “one more step in institutional degradation.”
Three months later, it is the PP that has resorted to its absolute majority in the Senate and the express procedure to modify the Rules of the Chamber. The initial objective was to change the internal rules to try to delay the approval of the amnesty law agreed by the PSOE and the Catalan independentists. The Senate cannot prevent it from going ahead, but the PP has found a formula to delay its application for a maximum of two months.
Those of Feijóo will assume this Tuesday with their absolute majority, and the irrelevant support of the two senators from Vox and UPN, the ability to modify the constitutional prerogative of Congress and the Government to declare the processing of a law urgent and thus reduce the deadlines and procedures necessary to approve a standard. Something that until now the Senate could not decide.
But the PP not only gives the Senate the power to decree the urgency of a procedure, but also to short-circuit the previous decision of Congress or the Government and to reverse it, despite the fact that article 90 of the Constitution establishes that “the two-month period The time that the Senate has to veto or amend the project will be reduced to twenty calendar days in projects declared urgent by the Government or by the Congress of Deputies.
The reform proposed by the PP establishes that “the Senate Board, ex officio or at the proposal of a parliamentary group or twenty-five Senators, may decide to apply the emergency procedure.” And he adds: “The Senate Board may decide to apply the emergency procedure when requested by the Government or the Congress of Deputies, or also acting ex officio or at the proposal of a parliamentary group or twenty-five Senators.”
The PP has not accepted any of the amendments presented by the opposition. The spokespersons for Junts, Compromís and Geroa Bai have criticized the reform and called it unconstitutional. The PSOE, in fact, has announced that it will take the reform to the Constitutional Court. “We will exercise our right to appeal for protection before the TC,” socialist spokesperson Francisco Manuel Fajardo warned from the rostrum. “With your back to good faith, you are committing a fraud on the law,” he criticized.
Today’s Senate spokesperson, Eloy Suárez, has reproached the groups for talking about the possible “unconstitutionality” of the reform “with what we are seeing and what we are going through”, in reference to the amnesty law itself. “It is good for this institution and good for Spain,” Suárez summarized.
The Government, forced to appear
The PP has included in this same reform a self-amendment to force members of the Government to appear in the Senate Plenary when the groups request it, as is now the case in Congress.
Until now, the president or ministers only had the obligation to appear before the Plenary Session of the Lower House when requested by the opposition. Although Pedro Sánchez went to the Senate Plenary several times in the last legislature, he did so in deference to Feijóo, who led the opposition from the Upper House because he was not a deputy.
Now that the PP dominates the Senate with an absolute majority, Feijóo’s people want to have a free hand to call Sánchez whenever they want, although they can already do so in Congress. And they have presented an amendment to their own text with six new points in the article that regulates the appearances of the presidents in that Chamber.
The new text now includes that ministers and heads of the Executive are obliged to attend when requested by two parliamentary groups or a fifth of the senators. The PP included this amendment after four ministers refused to respond at last week’s control session.