Arrimadas: ‘I will personally make sure that in Europe they know what you think’
Parties against independence challenge Quim Torra’s bid for office
Quim Torra’s first attempt to be sworn in as Catalan president on Saturday was seen as a mere formality before the next parliamentary session on Monday, when pro-independence parties are expected to have enough votes to outnumber their political rivals and appoint a new head of government. Yet parties against independence did not miss the opportunity to take on the new presidential candidate and challenge him.
Inés Arrimadas, the leader of Ciutadans, the main unionist party in Catalonia, accused Torra of wanting to lead the Catalan government as if it was a CDR (short for Committee in Defense of the Republic, a pro-independence grassroots group). She also brought up a series of controversial tweets that Torra made some years ago criticizing Spaniards. “I will personally take care of making sure that in Europe they know what you think,” she said, and added: "What you represent is an identitarian, excluding nationalism."
Esquerra Republicana, the main pro-independence ally of Torra’s Junts per Catalunya, backed the presidential candidate and criticized the Spanish government and unionist parties for backing the suspension of self-rule in Catalonia and the imprisonment of Catalan leaders. “They didn’t want us to appoint a president or form a government, and they probably don’t even want us to exist,” said Sergi Sabrià, ERC’s spokesperson. “If you can’t defeat us in an election, you should work harder, convince more people—but especially, leave courts alone.”
The leader of the Socialist party, Miquel Iceta, criticized the fact that Torra was designated as candidate by Carles Puigdemont, deposed by the Spanish government and whose bid to retake the office from abroad was was blocked by Spanish courts. “The presidency of the Catalan government is the highest institution in our country, and it can’t be subordinated to another person.”
Neither pro-independence nor unionist, Catalunya en Comú Podem is the only party standing between blocs. Its leader, Xavier Domènech, criticized Torra and pro-independence parties for not having been able to form a government since they held on to a majority in last December’s election. Domènech also said that Torra’s presidential speech “might be a good speech for CUP, but not for Catalan society as a whole.”
Indeed, all eyes are set on the far-left CUP party. Torra’s second attempt to be appointed as president on Monday will depend on whether CUP abstains or votes against his candidacy. On Saturday, CUP leader Carles Riera was very critical of his pro-independence allies. "Today we are facing a fourth presidential candidate because neither Junts per Catalunya nor ERC wanted to disobey Spain."
The leader of Spain’s ruling People’s Party in Catalonia, Xavier García Albiol, referred to Torra’s offer to initiate talks with the government in Madrid. “You offered dialogue. Ok, but in a democracy there are conditions: to respect the rules, the Constitution and the Catalan Statue of Auonomy.”