The Catalan regional premier Quim Torra stated on Wednesday that if the Supreme Court upholds a ruling barring him from office, and the regional parliament abides by that sentence, then elections will be called in the northeastern Spanish region.
“If the Catalan parliament gets to the point of removing my authority, I’m sure we will be left in a caretaker capacity for several months and then there will be elections,” he said in an interview with the Ràdio 4 station, which was reported by Europa Press.
Catalan premier Quim Torra
Magistrates are considering an appeal by Torra against a ruling by the Catalan regional High Court, which in December found him guilty of disobedience for refusing to remove pro-independence banners from public buildings during an election campaign, something that violated regulations on political neutrality. Based on the regional court’s decision, which bars Torra from office for a period of 18 months, Spain’s Central Electoral Board (JEC) agreed to strip the separatist premier of his lawmaker credentials in the Catalan parliament.
Torra on Friday insisted that he will not obey the JEC, and called the Supreme Court’s decision “a new, serious and unacceptable violation of the sovereignty of the Catalan parliament.” He also recalled that the regional chamber, which is controlled by a pro-independence majority, last week approved a motion calling the JEC’s decision “a coup.” On Friday, the Catalan premier used this expression again.
The speaker of the Catalan parliament, Roger Torrent, said on Wednesday that the chamber would fight for Torra to stay in his role “until the final consequences, from all points of view.” He continued saying that “the parliament has taken its position by choosing Torra [as regional premier] and also ratifying him. We have the political and legal legitimacy.”
Ciudadanos and the PP want the Catalan parliament to begin talks to find a new candidate for premier
On Wednesday, the speaker’s committee in the Catalan parliament voted to maintain Torra as a deputy, in spite of the JEC ruling. The agreement counted on the support of the pro-Catalan independence parties Together for Catalonia (JxC), the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), as well as Catalunya en Comú-Podem and the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC). The committee also agreed to file an appeal at the Supreme Court against the JEC’s decision, which, it says, it considers to be “void,” on the basis that it “does not have the powers to terminate a deputy.”
Opposition parties Ciudadanos (Citizens) and the Popular Party (PP) – both of which are fiercely opposed to Catalan independence – have argued that, according to the rules of the parliament, only a deputy can occupy the role of regional premier. The PP has called on Torrent to begin talks to find a new candidate for premier, while Ciudadanos has threatened legal action should the speaker’s committee refuse to comply.
Sources from the PSC explained that they had voted to keep Torra in his role on the basis that the parliament cannot remove him as premier until the Supreme Court has issued its final sentence.
English version by Simon Hunter.