February 19, 2024

Students of a public school.
Students of a public school.Monica Torres

The Constitutional Court has handed down a ruling denying Vox permission to go to schools in the Balearic Islands to see if students are indoctrinated there and make it difficult or prevented from using the Spanish language during school hours. The ruling rejects the appeal for amparo presented by that political formation before the decision of the Board of the Parliament of the Balearic Islands not to authorize that its representatives could access the public educational centers of this autonomous community during class hours, as was their claim. Vox has three seats in a Chamber of 59 deputies.

At first, the Balearic Government decided to allow Vox to visit the educational centers of the public network during non-school hours, so as “not to interfere with the normal functioning” of the schools. Once the petition was brought to the governing bodies of the autonomous Parliament, the Board of the Chamber also did not agree that the control work that said party wanted could take place while the students were carrying out their usual teaching tasks. Vox then decided to appeal to the Constitutional Court, arguing that the refusal received implied a violation of article 23.2 of the Constitution, relating to the right to political representation and specifically to the “right to equal access to public functions and positions, with the requirements established by law.

The sentence —for which Judge María Luisa Segoviano, from the progressive sector, has been the rapporteur— reasons that the visit of regional deputies to the public educational centers of the Balearic Islands constitutes an instrument provided for in art. 15.5 of the regulations of the Balearic Parliament for the control of government action that is part of the status of the position of deputy, protected in turn by the aforementioned article 23.2 of the Constitution. But at the same time, he stresses that in this case the condition that the visit take place outside school hours “responds to parameters of rationality and proportionality”, since it was based on a cause established by law, such as not altering the normal functioning of school activity.

The conflict between Vox and the Balearic Government has been going on for more than four years. The Department of Education decided that the deputies of said formation could visit the centers outside school hours and in the company of the educational inspector of the area, a proposal that was not accepted by the aforementioned parliamentary group. In January 2020, the Ministry of Education stated that the proposal sought to guarantee, on the one hand, “the right of regional deputies to access public agencies” and on the other it allowed students to “exercise their right in education free from any external pressure ”.

The Constitutional Court decided to admit the amparo petition for processing in 2021, and the appeal was submitted to the plenary session, given its possible constitutional relevance. Now, the sentence finally handed down highlights that “after repeated requests” for Vox to specify the purpose of the visits it wanted to carry out, said training “did not carry it out, preventing with this action a more specific consideration could be made to determine the need that the visit took place during school hours”. In any case, in 2019 the Vox spokesman, Jorge Campos, stated that the purpose of the proposed visits was to check the state of the infrastructures and “what happens with the imposition of Catalan”, and with “the indoctrination that is carried out with linguistic immersion in Catalan”, to add that “we must respond to the thousands of complaints that have been received for years”.

Judge Enrique Arnaldo voted against the ruling, who will make a dissenting opinion to which fellow judges Ricardo Enríquez, Concepción Espejel and César Tolosa, all of them from the conservative sector of the court, have joined. The discrepancy is based on the fact that, in his opinion, the request for amparo should have been successful, declaring “the violation of the right of the Vox-Actúa Baleares Parliamentary Group of the Parliament of the Balearic Islands to exercise public parliamentary office with the requirements established by law and without illegitimate disturbances”, in accordance with the aforementioned article 23.2 of the Constitution.

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In the opinion of the members of the conservative Constitutional block, the agreements of the Board of the Balearic Parliament “violated the jus in officium (the powers) inherent to the position of parliamentarian”, because they came to prevent the deputies of the appellant group from exercising the function of control of the Balearic government, “by accepting as good the apodictic refusal of the latter to allow those deputies to carry out the visit during school hours to the public educational centers of the Balearic Islands, a visit that they had requested under the right of access to public facilities provided for in art. 15.5 of the Regulations of the Parliament of the Balearic Islands”.

The dissenting magistrates understand that “this norm integrates the statute of the position of deputy, for which reason it forms part of the essential nucleus of the fundamental right to exercise the parliamentary public office with the requirements indicated by law and without illegitimate conditioning or disturbances”. The dissenting vote considers that the Board of the Balearic Parliament did not exercise its powers “in defense of the rights of parliamentarians, that is, it did not ensure its effectiveness, but merely accepted the unfounded limitation to the right of visits imposed by the Balearic Executive, hiding behind a restrictive interpretation” of the regulations of the chamber, in terms that left said right empty of content.

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