‘What do you fear?’: President demands agreed referendum in key parliament speech
Quim Torra accuses Spanish authorities of “violating presumption of innocence”
The Catalan president, Quim Torra, has demanded once more that Spain’s government sit at a negotiating table and agree on an independence referendum.
In the key annual general policies parliamentary debate on Wednesday, Torra asked for unionists to “leave the criminal code outside the chamber” and said his ideal would be for “citizens to have their say about independence.”
He also referred to Spain’s unmovable refusal of such referendum. “What do you fear, not having a majority? What’s the problem?”
Catalonia’s chief emphasized the need of dialogue, but without ruling out going on with the road to independence if Madrid rejects such talks.
“We will always want dialogue, but as they don’t sit at the table, we will continue forward and won’t stop.”
Torra recalled that unionists have repeatedly claimed that they are the majority among citizens and said: “So then, why don’t you silence us for a few years with a binding referendum like democratic countries do?”
"Governors and prosecutors have already announced when the verdict will be out"
Quim Torra · Catalan president
During his speech, he also referred to the upcoming verdict on the pro-independence jailed leaders, and accused Spain’s authorities of “violating their presumption of innocence.”
Without revealing details on what the Catalan institutions’ response to a potential guilty verdict will be, he did say that they will “exercise again all the rights denied" to them, "including the right to self-determination.”
Torra also suggested that there is a poor separation of powers in Spain. “Governors and prosecutors have already announced when the verdict will be out,” he said.
The opening speech of this year's general policies debate also deeply criticized Spain’s police and judiciary for the arrests of nine pro-independence activists on Monday on “terrorism” charges. “There is a false narrative of violence in Catalonia.”
Pro-indy parties defend Torra's speech
Francesc de Dalmases, an MP for Torra's Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) party, defended the president in the face of criticism from opposition parties, who accuse him of focusing too much on independence: "There is no way to resolve the everyday problems of the Catalan people without defending all the human rights that are denied by the Spanish state."
A former minister and MP for Esquerra party, Ernest Maragall, highlighted Torra's references to the "repression process that's going on in our country" and stood by his "firmness in not renouncing our main goals".