President Torra to ask Spanish counterpart about ‘self-determination’
The Catalan head of government pledges to work towards an independent Republic, relaunch offices abroad and ‘fight for reinstatement’ of public diplomacy council
The Catalan president, Quim Torra, will ask his new Spanish counterpart, Pedro Sánchez, for his opinion on “Catalonia’s right to self-determination.” In an interview with Catalan public TV on Sunday night, Torra announced that he has already been in touch with Sánchez, and in their first meeting he will not only ask about the right to vote on independence but also about his position on “civil and political rights.”
Torra also said that he will urge Sánchez not to oppose to 16 “social laws” suspended by the Spanish Constitutional Court after they were challenged by Mariano Rajoy’s ousted cabinet. “Which Pedro Sánchez [new Spanish president] will I find? The one that supports direct rule, or the one in the vote of no-confidence debate who seemed to open some doors," Torra asked.
During the interview, the head of the Catalan government pledged to work to secede from Spain. "Our government’s aim is to build an independent Catalan republic," he claimed. For that goal, he said three pillars will be ready soon: one includes the Catalan government, parliament and local councils, another includes the public and the third is to be found abroad. "We will create a ‘council for the republic,’ led by Puigdemont, to publicise the Catalan cause internationally,” he said. This body will be set up "when Puigdemont can return to Belgium." Torra's predecessor is now in Germany with an extradition case underway.
Yet Torra did not go into more depth on his plans to implement independence. “I’d rather speak of creating opportunities than obeying or disobeying [the Spanish legal framework]. Now is time for restitution [of self-government],” said Torra.
“After having been in politics for some months, what has astonished me the most is the inhumanity of some politicians; some of their colleagues are in prison but for them they have vanished, this is something difficult for me to understand.”
Quim Torra · Catalan president
Torra also announced the relaunch of the Catalan government’s representation abroad, closed down by the Spanish executive in October 2017, and the "fight for reinstatement" of the Diplocat public diplomacy council, also shut down by Rajoy's cabinet. According to Torra, control of Catalonia’s finances will come to an end on Monday, leaving only monthly Spanish supervision, which has been in force since 2015.
In the interview on Catalan public TV, Torra said that talks with the opposition groups will start next week. What's more, he will file lawsuits “incessantly” if accused of being a “nazi”, as the former Spanish vice president Alfonso Guerra did earlier this week.
However, day-to-day governance might be complicated, as his executive is not supported by the majority of the chamber, and could only be formed after loose ally, the far-left pro-independence CUP party, abstained in his investiture vote. But he is confident he can persuade CUP to support his next budget. “I feel liberal from a human point of view, but at the same time from an economic point of view I feel I am a social democrat,” he claimed, while he vowed to defend the government’s social plan.
"Inhumanity of some politicians"
Another focus of his cabinet will be demanding the release of the nine jailed leaders in three prisons in the Madrid region, which he pointed out are more than 600 km away from their relatives. “After having been in politics for some months, what has astonished me the most is the inhumanity of some politicians,” he claimed. “Some of them have known each other for years, and to think that some of their colleagues are in prison but for them they have vanished, this is something difficult for me to understand.”