The president of the Government of Catalonia, Quim Torra, has called on the deputies of the Catalan chamber to “defend the democratic will and sovereignty of Parliament” in response to a ruling issued by the Central Electoral Board, which he said was aimed at “bringing down a president through irregular procedures” in “another attempt to alter what has been decided by the Catalan people, another blow to democracy, and another coup against our institutions”.
In his speech at the extraordinary plenary session held this afternoon, the head of the executive urged Catalan deputies to make a stand. “The time has come to stand our ground, to speak out against the political degradation of this parliament, to defend the sovereignty of this chamber and the inviolability of all its members.”
The president, who appeared before Parliament at his own request, stressed that “violating the sovereignty of a parliament, supplanting the rules that govern it, and banning the president of a nation from office for having defended fundamental rights”, as the Central Electoral Board is trying to do, is “something that is absolutely unthinkable in any democracy” and “could only happen in the Spanish state”.
Torra said he would not “give up any right of defence” and that his lawyers will lodge “as many appeals as it takes to put an end to this legal and political aberration. Their threats and persecution won’t stop us.”
“In Europe, we will seek the justice we’re denied in Spain. We’ll do whatever it takes to defend our position: that a politician cannot be banned from office for having defended freedom of expression,” he concluded.
A golden opportunity
During his speech, the head of the government said today’s plenary session and the resulting vote would test acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s stated intention to leave behind the judicialisation of politics, which he spoke of today in the Congress of Deputies. PM Sánchez also spoke of dialogue within a constitutional framework, but President Torra said this framework was “a cage for Catalans – a cage for our power to make decisions – because it’s the same framework invoked to ban me from office and override the decisions of this parliament”.
Along the same lines, President Torra said the current situation also presents a “golden opportunity” for “certain parties that are seeking to set a new course in relations between Catalonia and Spain to demonstrate whether this is a genuine, honest proposal based on democratic principles or just another ruse, another trap to distract us from our determination to achieve freedom”. He also said that this situation could serve as an opportunity for the new government being formed in Madrid, which is advocating “dialogue on the political conflict between Catalonia and Spain” to show its commitment to pursuing this new approach. “Now is the time for us to see whether the political repression has ended – whether it’s rejected and condemned – because if they continue to countenance and allow political persecution through state bodies, I don’t know how we’ll be able to trust them.”
Call for strategic unity
To tackle the challenges ahead, the president called on all the actors involved in the independence movement to participate in a forum “to discuss and debate what, and under what conditions, the president of the Government of Catalonia can negotiate with the Spanish government [because] we need to act with strategic unity rather than allowing division to be sown”.
Torra also requested that a meeting of the Assembly of Elected Officials of Catalonia be called to make a joint decision on “how the independence movement should respond to the latest coup”.
The president also called on Spanish courts to release Vice-President Junqueras, declare a mistrial, and annul a sentence that “should never have been handed down”. He stressed: “The rulings of European courts must be complied with and respected.”