Fri, 04 Jul 2008

Marc Belzunces' conscience objection fight

Yesterday, my friend Marc had to visit a court in Barcelona, after being accussed for an electoral penalty.

Marc has always had a strong Catalan sentiment, and fights for the independence of his country from the French and Spanish states in as many ways he finds convenient. In this direction, he's been involved in countless activities promoting independence, in the Internet and in the streets.

For now, he has to deal with living in the Spanish state, and recently this became a legal problem. Spain held parlamentary elections in March, and Marc was appointed to serve at one of the polling stations in Barcelona. Believing he had nothing to do with an election process to elect the Spanish parliament, he conciously refused to take his seat during that Sunday, infringing the Spanish electoral law.

He presented his allegations to the officer, and refused to declare anything else. He now faces a fine ranging from 180 to 1800€ or community work (which he would, again, object to perform). The officer told him that he's apparently the first Catalan to object like this, so what will happen next (besides he'll have to sit in court and see how it goes) is unprecedented.

While Marc and I don't share many of our political views, I admire his dedication and his solid defence of his ideals. If I had been called to serve in a polling station last March, I would most probably have had my own personal debate on what to do, but suspect I would have ended going there to avoid creating these kind of situations, and would have had to participate in a process that I consider broken, unfair and undemocratic. I admire and support Marc for being stubborn enough to get this far.

His case has had quite some echo in the Catalan blogsphere and some Catalan media like VilaWeb. Some people have started a campaign to collect money to help Marc pay the fine. The response so far has been surprisingly positive.

Marc, molta sort i una abraçada!

So it is mandatory in Spain to serve at polling stations during an election, kind of like jury duty?

Posted by Neural Transmissions at Sat Jul 5 06:11:20 2008

Yes, if you are "elected", you have to spend more than 16 hours on a Sunday in the polling station. The only way to avoid this is if you justify you are abroad, in some other city and have a good reason not to come back, illness, disability, etc.

Posted by Jordi at Sat Jul 5 11:32:22 2008

Conscience objection? You gotta be kidding me! He just refused to comply with the laws of the state he's living in, so justice came back for him. No surprise, man.

Posted by Berto at Mon Jul 7 02:01:28 2008