Torra urges Spain to follow UK example and allow referendum
Ahead of meeting with Scottish First Minister next week, President highlights "peaceful and democratic agreement" between London and Edinburgh on independence vote
Catalan president Quim Torra urged the Spanish government on Thursday to follow the United Kingdom's example and allow a Catalan vote on independence such as the one held in Scotland in 2014.
Ahead of his meeting next week in Edinburgh with the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, Torra highlighted that the UK and Scottish governments were able to reach a "peaceful and democratic agreement" to settle the independence question in the ballot boxes.
Torra urged the new Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez, to follow the example of former British Prime Minister David Cameron and allow a similar independence vote.
"Why should we settle for lesser democratic standards than other Europeans? Are we less European or do we have less rights than the Scottish?" said Torra during a speech in Parliament.
The Catalan president also compared the reaction of London to the Scottish independence movement to that of Madrid and the Catalan vote.
"Could you imagine the British police raiding polling stations to beat Scottish citizens trying to vote? Could you imagine Scottish politicians in prison or in exile for organizing a referendum? Could you imagine the Queen of England making a speech such as the one that King Felipe VI gave on October 3?" he said.
The Spanish government sent thousands of police officers to stop an independence vote in Catalonia on October 1. The vote had been deemed illegal by Spain.
The Spanish King condoned the police operation during a speech two days later and made no reference to those injured, or to engaging in dialogue, something that sparked criticism in Catalonia, even amongst parties not in favour of independence.
Images of police officers hitting people caused outraged and condemnation from the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, the Council of Europe and NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
Nine Catalan leaders are currently in prison and seven others are in exile for their role during the independence process.
Catalonia's self-government was suspended by Madrid for over seven months, until a new government, led by Quim Torra, who is also favorable to independence, was elected.