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Torra's first 12 months as Catalan president

Elected the 131st President of Catalonia a year ago, Quim Torra insists that an independent republic is "the only possible way forward"

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14 May 2019 12:18 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

It has been a year since Quim Torra was elected the 131st President of Catalonia, with the head of the government on Tuesday reiterating his support for independence: "I'm more convinced than ever that the only possible way forward is the Republic," he said in a tweet.

It was the combined votes of the ERC and JxCat pro-independence parties that ensured Torra was elected president, after the Spanish courts had blocked three other candidates because they had been charged with rebellion over the 2017 bid to split from Spain.

After Torra was sworn in as president on May 17, he set about appointing an executive that would bring seven months of direct rule in Catalonia to an end. Yet, his decision to include former ministers in custody or exile was blocked by the Spanish government

 

  • "I'm more convinced than ever that the only possible way forward is the Republic"

    Quim Torra · Catalan president

Torra had pledged to reinstate the Catalan ministers who had been dismissed following the 2017 independence bid, but was forced to abandon that intention, and on May 29 he appointed a new cabinet that took office on June 2, ending the period of direct rule.

Torra's "only mandate"

Describing implementing the republic declared by the Catalan Parliament on October 27, 2017, as "his only mandate," Torra has so far focused his efforts largely on promoting and furthering the pro-independence cause, which has drawn criticism from unionist parties.  

Torra's took office at the same time as Pedro Sánchez became Spanish president with the help of pro-independence parties in Congress. The two leaders have met twice to discuss the political crisis, but without making much progress on the issue of self-determination.

Despite their second meeting in December leading to a joint declaration committing both sides to further dialogue, the trial of Catalan leaders in the Supreme Court and Sánchez's lack of any gestures towards self-determination led to a breakdown in relations.

Yellow ribbons and Catalan trial

Since then, Torra has come into conflict with the Spanish authorities, not least over the yellow ribbons affair, in which he cited freedom of expression to initially resist a court order to remove the symbols in support of the Catalan leaders on trial from government buildings.

The president has also been an active promoter of the pro-independence camp, making a number of trips to Belgium to meet with former president Carles Puigdemont, arguing for self-determination at international events, and attending the Supreme Court trial.

Torra refuses to say how he will react to a possible guilty verdict in the trial, although he has said he will make a proposal to Parliament. Some speculate that he will call a snap election, but he has also said he would only do that if implementing the republic proves impossible.

Challenge of passing a budget

Described as a fanatic and a supremacist by his detractors, especially after disparaging remarks about Spaniards made some years ago, and for which he has apologized, Torra's critics say his championing of the pro-independence cause shows a failure of governance.

One example of this is, arguably, the failure of Torra's coalition executive to find the necessary support to pass the 2019 budget, in a parliament in which the pro-independence majority depends on the votes of the far-left, anti-capitalist CUP party.

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  • The new Catalan president, Quim Torra, in parliament (by ACN)

  • The new Catalan president, Quim Torra, in parliament (by ACN)

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