The president of the Parliament of Catalonia, Anna Erra, during the debate on the appeal of unconstitutionality to the housing law.Quique García (EFE)
It is unusual for a party to vote in favor of a law and then appeal it to the Constitutional Court. It happened this Friday: ERC has supported in the Parliament of Catalonia to appeal the national housing law after winning the medal, last May, for having managed to push it forward in Congress. ERC and EH Bildu were, in fact, the parties that at that time presented the law to the media, claiming that they had been the ones who had managed to convince the Government to approve it. Now, the Republicans justify the change by hiding behind the opinion of the Council of Statutory Guarantees, a body of the Generalitat that ruled that the law invades regional powers. ERC has had the support of Junts and the CUP to appeal the new law, although those of Junqueras have accused Junts of moving more to “stop social advances” than to protect self-government.
“The law has articles that go against the Statute, which grants full powers to the Government in matters of housing,” denounced Mònica Sales, spokesperson for Junts, a party that voted against the law in May. “ERC has negotiated, agreed and voted on the state law and then joined the unconstitutionality appeal. But welcome aboard,” Sales stressed. ERC and Junts had had a bitter exchange of reproaches when, last May, Carles Puigdemont’s team did not join in giving the green light to a law that had been born in part from the previous work done by the Generalitat. The Catalan Government, despite the appeal, has already launched the machinery to apply the regulations.
Junts, like the PNV or the Community of Madrid, were quick to disapprove of the content of the rule which, among other things, sets a cap on rental prices in the so-called stressed areas. Junts urged the Parliament to request a report from the Council of Statutory Guarantees (an autonomous body homologous to the Council of State and whose position is not binding) and this text was known at the beginning of August. The Council ruled that eight articles and three provisions of the norm invade the powers of the Generalitat, although it had two dissenting votes.
The person in charge of defending ERC’s position was deputy Pau Morales, who claimed the possibility of improving the possible problems of the norm through this resource, although he accepted the content of the law and its objective. Having overturned it in Congress, he has alleged, “would have meant losing an unrepeatable opportunity to achieve social progress, such as the regulation of rental income or having landlords pay the costs of rental contracts.”
Morales has explained that already in the negotiation process in Congress, the withdrawal of more than a dozen articles that openly did fall within the consumer powers of the Generalitat was achieved. “And we negotiate alone, too alone,” he has disfigured his former partners in the Government. But the Republican deputy has gone further and has accused Junts of wanting to mask a conservative agenda on the issue of housing as jurisdictional litigation. For Morales, the fact that the Council did not agree with Puigdemont’s men in everything shows that “under the protection of the defense of Catalonia lies the will to stop social progress.”
The opinion is very technical and goes into resolving issues that it accepts do not have a direct impact on the law. An example is article 18, which refers to tense rental areas. The Council of Statutory Guarantees considers that, although what the law includes “has no impact on the competence of the Generalitat nor does it have an enabling nature”, it is not a matter that is within the scope of decision of the State and therefore I shouldn’t enter that area.
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The PNV, which at the time voted against the law, has taken advantage of the vote in Parliament to put EH Bildu in front of the mirror, which did support the text and criticized the Peneuvistas for opposing the most progressive aspects of it. On its social networks, the PNV criticizes Arnaldo Otegi’s party, relying on ERC’s decision to now appeal the law. Anything to say, EH Bildu?” was the message.
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