TENSION In Spain’s Catalonia As Separatist President Quim Torra Loses MP Status

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Catalunia's President Quim Torra prepares the region to enter the 'new normal' from tomorrow. Credit: Twitter @AndyVermaut

QUIM TORRA, who heads Catalonia’s separatist government and took over as regional president in May 2018 at the head of a coalition made up of Catalonia’s two main separatist parties, JxC (Together for Catalonia) and the ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia), on Monday lost his status as a lawmaker in the region’s parliament following a disagreement between the chamber’s two main pro-independence parties.

Tensions commenced in November, when a court in Barcelona found Mr Torra guilty of disobedience for refusing to remove pro-independence propaganda from the façade of his government’s building during an election campaign last year.

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The court banned him from holding public office for 18 months. Although Torra has appealed the conviction, the electoral commission ordered the Catalan parliament to implement the suspension immediately.

On Monday, the Catalan parliament’s presiding council accepted that Mr Torra should be stripped of his seat.

As Euro Weekly News understands, it is not immediately clear whether Torra would have to stand down as Catalan president, as by law, only someone holding a parliamentary seat can be chosen as president. However, the loss of that seat does not necessarily mean having to give up the presidency and for the moment, both ERC and JxCat insist that, at least for the time being, Mr Torra should remain as Catalan leader. However the event has highlighted the growing tensions between the separatist groups in the region with snap elections a possibility.


ERC, who’s abstention in the recent investiture vote of Socialist Pedro Sánchez helped him form a new Spanish administration, thawing bilateral relations somewhat had hoped to avoid making this issue yet another cause of strife between the Catalan government and Madrid. ERC’s stance was that Mr Torra “sterile disobedience” could hurt the independence movement in the longer term.

However, JxCat’s opposition to the decision was made clear by Mr Torra, in a parliamentary debate afterwards.


“I trust that parliament will correct this irregularity immediately,” he said, calling on Mr Torrent, president of the Parliament of Catalonia, to reinstate him as a member of parliament. “If it does not, the continuity of our institutions will be at risk.”

Members of the unionist Ciudadanos party then chanted “Criminal, criminal” at Mr Torra, causing the session to be suspended for several minutes. Ciudadanos and the conservative PP Party believe Mr Torra should step down as president immediately.

This development also comes just days before Mr Torra was due to meet with Mr Sánchez at the start of a series of negotiations between the two governments.

The Spanish government has insisted that a meeting will still take place.

Since the ruling, angry protesters have taken to the streets and bins were set ablaze, last night (Monday) in objection at President Quim Torra being stripped of his seat in the Catalan Parliament.

 

 




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