The leader of Vox in Catalonia, Ignacio Garriga, intervenes in a plenary session in the Parliament in February. David Zorrakino (Europa Press)
The First Chamber of the Constitutional Court has unanimously rejected the appeal filed by Vox in which the decision of the Bureau of the Parliament of Catalonia on the distribution of regional senators was challenged. The formula used for this distribution, known as Imperali, usually has the effect of benefiting the parties with the highest support of votes. The sentence – of which the magistrate María Luis Segoviano has been rapporteur – denies that the chosen system violated the rights of political representation of the parliamentary group of Vox or that it implied an illegal action of the Bureau of the Chamber.
The agreement challenged by Vox used the formula of Italian origin Imperiali and ruled out others more favorable to minority groups in the allocation of the eight seats in the Senate that corresponded to designate the Parliament. The chosen system assigned three senators to the PSC, another three to ERC —whose respective parliamentary groups were composed of 33 deputies—, and two senators to Junts per Catalunya —whose group had 32 deputies—. The rest of the parliamentary groups, including Vox, which was the next largest number of deputies – 11 – did not obtain the possibility of appointing a senator.
In its appeal, Vox argued that this decision violated its right to political representation (contained in Article 23.2 of the Constitution) because it was the selection of a novel formula that departed from those used in previous legislatures and failed to comply with the requirement to establish a calculation rule from which it would result, at least, a proportionality equal to or greater than that of the rule of general application, which is the d'Hondt formula —which is used for the distribution of seats—, which deprived him of appointing a regional senator.
However, the ruling denies that there was a violation of rights. To reach this conclusion, the court reasons that the regional regulations governing the proportional appointment of regional senators in Catalonia (Law 6/2010, of March 26) attributes to the Bureau the power to set in each case the number of senators that correspond proportionally to each of these groups without any limit to specify such proportionality according to the system or distribution formula that it considers most appropriate. The ruling adds that the application of the d'Hondt rule as a general criterion established in the Spanish electoral system cannot be understood as mandatory.
The judgment explains that the power of selection attributed by the regional regulations to the Bureau of the Parliament of Catalonia is regardless of whether this option inevitably ends up benefiting the largest groups or the small and minority groups, always with the limit that, within a reasonable margin of flexibility, the very essence of proportionality is not altered. What would be rejected, the court considers, is that a significantly disadvantageous situation is generated from the absence of an objective and reasonable criterion that could justify it.
Having established this principle, the resolution concludes that the distribution criterion selected is not contrary to the requirement of proportionality. The court emphasizes that the Constitution is exhaustive in establishing as the only requirement in the autonomous designation of senators that "adequate proportional representation" be ensured. The Constitutional Court also adds that the application of the Imperiali formula, despite being disadvantageous for the appellant parliamentary group in relation to other possible alternative systems that could have been chosen, "does not alter the essence of the constitutionally required proportionality".
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