Jordi Turull, the resilient party man
Involved in politics for 30 years, his career peaks after being a key player in the independence vote –and paying a high price for it
MP Jordi Turull is a resilient party member, as can be seen from his political career. He was a senior official of a now defunct regionalist party who became a leading center-right figure in the independence movement, and who was one of the main players in organizing the October 1 referendum. Now, while many key officials in last autumn’s clash with Spain have given up politics following the legal action taken against them by Spain, Turull is still standing and willing to become the new Catalan president –in the meantime, he had to spend some time in prison for his role in the independence bid.
In politics since the eighties
Due to be sworn in on March 22, Turull has been involved in institutional politics his whole life. His involvement in politics began in the eighties, as a member of the Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (CDC) party –the predecessor of the pro-independence PDeCAT party–, the center-right regionalist ruling force in Catalonia for more than 20 years. Turull has held several political offices. His political career began as a local councilor in his hometown of Parets del Vallès, in the Barcelona area. In 2004, his political career took a leap forward, when he won a seat in the Catalan parliament.
Defending a referendum in Madrid
Six years after becoming an MP, he became the party spokesman in parliament, and then the chairman of his parliamentary group. On April 2014, he went to the Spanish Congress, along with other Catalan MPs, to defend the holding of a referendum on independence in Catalonia. Yet the Spanish legislative chamber turned down the Catalan parliament's proposal.
After the 2015 election, he continued being the chairman of his parliamentary group. Yet this time it was the Junts pel Sí coalition, including CDC and Esquerra Republicana (ERC). In the run-up of the October 1 referendum, Carles Puigdemont appointed him as spokesman for the Catalan government and presidency minister. He played a key role in the organization of the independence vote –and is paying a high price for it.
Ministers sent to prison
"No one can be judged for doing something that is not a crime," said Turull before the referendum on independence was held. However, following the Catalan parliament's independence declaration on October 27, the Spanish government dismissed all the members of the Catalan government, including Turull. Some days later, on November 2, he was sent to prison, along with other Catalan ministers.
"No one can be judged for doing something that is not a crime"
Jordi Turull · Presidential candidate
Held without bail in preventive detention, he spent 32 days behind bars. Finally, he was freed along with five other Catalan ministers after paying €100,000 bail on December 4. That day, a small crowd of some 30 people, made up of family, friends and party members, were waiting outside the prison to greet the released ministers. Despite being freed on bail, he ran in the December 21 election as Puigdemont's number four for the Junts per Catalunya ticket, and was elected MP.
Third presidential candidate
After more than 30 years in politics, the Spanish judiciary's decisions have pushed him to the forefront of politics. Since the December 21 election, three presidential candidates have been put forward. As Junts per Catalunya was the most voted pro-independence party, its leader Carles Puigdemont was the first candidate to try to take office as Catalan president.
Yet, the Spanish Constitutional Court set some conditions for Puigdemont, who is currently in Brussels, to be sworn in: he had to attend the investiture debate in person and with judicial authorization. Following the court's ruling, the parliament speaker, Roger Torrent, postponed the debate to pick a new Catalan president.
After Puigdemont's failed candidacy, the incarcerated pro-independence grassroots leader Jordi Sànchez was the next presidential candidate nominated. He ended up also stepping aside as the judge denied him permission to attend the chamber. Turull’s opportunity now comes in very unlikely circumstances: he is only hours away from being prosecuted –and maybe sent to jail– for the October 1 referendum and the declaration of independence.