The candidate for the presidency of Catalonia of the Junts per Catalonia Quim Torra party arrives at a session in the Parlament, in Barcelona, together with Deputy Elsa Artadi on May 14, 2018
The Parliament of Catalonia invested Monday as regional president the candidate driven by the deposed Carles Puigdemont, the editor Quim Torra, to regain regional autonomy and resume the confrontation between the independence and the Spanish government.
This editor of 55 years, member of the hard wing of the Catalan independence movement, was chosen by a narrow majority of 66 votes in favor, 65 against and 4 abstentions of the most radical faction of separatism.
In a brief speech after the vote, this man, a novel in politics, has already made clear his intentions for the future: „Viva Catalunya libre“, he celebrated.
In the next few days the government in this region will have to form 7.5 million inhabitants, a requirement for the intervention of Catalan autonomy decreed by Madrid after the failed declaration of independence on October 27th.
An intervention that could be applied again if the new leaders break the law in their struggle for independence, warned the Spanish government of Mariano Rajoy, who was cautious before the investiture of Torra.
„We are going to bet on the understanding and for the agreement but in the same way that I say this (…) I guarantee that the law and the Spanish Constitution will be fulfilled,“ he said.
For the moment, despite calling also the dialogue with Madrid, Torra is aligned with the strategy of his predecessor Puigdemont, supporter of maintaining tension with the State.
In his speeches he promised to be loyal to the mandate to „build an independent state in the form of a republic“ and to work „without rest“ for it once he forms a government.
– Perpetuation of the confrontation –
In a first investiture debate on Saturday, Torra could not be elected because he lacked the support of an absolute majority (68 votes out of 135).
His election on Monday was possible thanks to the abstention of the four deputies of the CUP (Candidature of Popular Unity), a small left-wing pro-independence party that favors disobedience and confrontation with Madrid.
After consulting his bases, on Sunday he announced his abstention to not block „the formation of a new government,“ but warned that he will actively oppose a government plan that „does not advance in the construction of republican measures.“
To seduce them, Torra undertook to recover some laws suspended by the Spanish justice system, initiate the drafting of a Catalan Constitution or create a parallel government and parliament in exile to promote secession.
Also to facilitate the return to power of the „legitimate president“ Carles Puigdemont, who delegated „provisionally“ on him to avoid the call for new elections after months of political blockade.
The former president, fled abroad before being prosecuted for rebellion, is on bail in Germany waiting to know if he will be extradited to Spain.
The opposition criticized this subordination to the previous leader as well as the election of Torra as successor, pursued by a series of old articles in which he poured harsh offenses against the Spaniards.
„Defend xenophobia, defend an exclusive identity,“ launched the opposition leader of the center-right party Ciudadanos, Inés Arrimadas.
– Provisional President –
The political crisis in Catalonia
Puigdemont himself said in an interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa on Saturday that his successor „takes power under provisional conditions and is aware of it.“ „From October 27 will be able to call new elections,“ he added.
The first trials against 25 independence leaders accused of rebellion and other crimes could open in October, a good time to mobilize the Catalan separatists against the „repression“ of the state in the framework of an election campaign, according to analysts.
Nine of the secessionist leaders are in provisional prison, and seven, including Puigdemont, in voluntary exile.
Most of the accused belong to the two big separatist parties, the conservative PDeCAT and the leftist ERC, who advocate greater moderation unlike Puigdemont, Torra and the CUP.
In position of strength after his success in the December elections, when his list Together for Catalonia was the most voted among the independentisas, Puigdemont imposed his candidate, entrusting him to maintain the confrontation with Madrid.
A government of Torra, „that only responds“ to Puigdemont, can give rise to tensions in the independence coalition, warned Oriol Bartomeus, a political scientist at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. „There can be trouble, there can be fights,“ he says.