This morning, the president of the Government of Catalonia, Quim Torra, said: “If the 1 October referendum trial doesn’t end in acquittal, it’s the Spanish judiciary that will start to have a huge problem.” According to Torra, if the defendants are not acquitted, the response will have to be “democratic and focus on the right to self-determination” because “that’s what they’re putting on trial – the 2.3 million Catalans who came out to vote”. “The Spanish courts need to be very aware of what’s at stake in this trial. If there’s a conviction, I’m calling on the Catalan people to respond collectively,” said the Catalan president during an interview on the programme El Matí de Catalunya Ràdio.
As to the form of this response, the head of the executive said: “We’re prepared to do whatever the Parliament of Catalonia is prepared to do.” “My loyalty is only to Parliament, and I’ll always act in accordance with what it asks of me,” said Torra, adding that he had never considered calling new elections.
“We can’t spend eight months calling for dialogue for dialogue’s sake”
During the interview with Monica Terribas, the president took stock of the state of negotiations with the Spanish government and stressed that his executive “remains seated at the dialogue table”, but, as the Catalan side has always insisted, there is a condition: “The exercise of Catalonia’s right to self-determination has to be on the table.” “We can’t give up being who we are to sit down at the negotiating table,” said Torra, invoking the legacy of 1 and 27 October 2017.
“We’ve never made the release of the prisoners or the return of those in exile a precondition for dialogue. Out of a sense of responsibility, we came to the negotiating table without imposing any preconditions. Is the offer of dialogue really nothing more than a way to get the budget passed?”
Torra said the negotiations with Madrid had been “going pretty well” until last Wednesday, when two “pincers” took hold of the Spanish Socialist party (PSOE): “the pincer of the far right, on the one hand, and the pincer of the antiquated old guard of the PSOE, on the other. Sánchez found himself in the grip of these two pincers and backed out.”
The president said that everyone understands the complexity of the situation but pointed out: “We can’t spend eight months calling for dialogue for dialogue’s sake; we have to define the content of that dialogue.” To that end, the Catalan government proposed “a calendar of meetings to keep moving forward, a programme plan, and a participant whose role would be to help coordinate and to facilitate agreement”. In contrast, according to Torra, the Spanish government has yet to put forward any concrete proposal for Catalonia.
“What is Spain prepared to do? Do Catalans have to resign themselves to the fact that the answer will always be no?” asked the president. The Spanish government “can’t govern against Catalonia or against the solution backed by a majority of Catalans, which is to vote”. “In response to the failure of the far right and the pressure that the old guard of the Socialist party is putting on him, Pedro Sánchez has to have the courage to break free of all that and listen to Catalan society,” Torra said.
“No” to the budget