Catalan government on hold as president studies legal action against Madrid
Spanish government blocks reinstatement of ministers in jail and abroad
President Quim Torra has postponed the forming of a new executive in Catalonia in order to seek legal advice against the Spanish government, which recently blocked the reinstatement of ministers in jail and abroad.
Catalonia was expected to have formed a new government on Wednesday—almost seven months after Spain dismissed the previous cabinet following a declaration of independence. In the first major political clash since Quim Torra was sworn in as Catalan president a week ago, the Spanish government blocked the appointment of his nominated ministers. The reason: four of them were dismissed last October, and are currently behind bars or seeking refuge in other European countries.
“Only Spain’s actions are impeding the formation of a new government, thus extending the application of Article 155 and therefore the suspension of self-government in the country”
Quim Torra · Catalan president
For Torra, reinstating all officials sacked by Madrid is a political statement. His stance is that since the suspension of self-rule in Catalonia was illegitimate, all officials should get their posts back. The Spanish government sees it differently, as yet another act of defiance by pro-independence politicians, standing in the way of Catalan institutions going back to normality.
In order for ministers to officially take office, their appointment must be published in the Catalan government’s gazette (DOGC), currently under the control of Spain’s president Mariano Rajoy. And he will not greenlight Torra’s executive unless the Catalan president gives up his attempt to reinstate deposed ministers.
Yet, Torra shows no signs of giving ground either. On Wednesday, he reached out to a consultative body to study legal action against the Spanish government.
“The Catalan people, as a whole, have the right to have a new government,” said a press release from Torra’s office. “Only Spain’s actions are impeding the formation of a new government, thus extending the application of Article 155 and therefore the suspension of self-government in the country.”
President Torra signed the decree appointing his cabinet members last Saturday. Among them was Jordi Turull (Presidency) and Josep Rull (Territory), who are both in jail, and also Lluís Puig (Culture) and Toni Comín (Health), who are in Brussels seeking refuge from Spain’s judiciary. They all face criminal charges of rebellion for their role in the independence bid.
Torra is considering whether to go on with the appointment of his cabinet despite Madrid’s opposition.
Xavier Domènech, the leader of Catalunya en Comú-Podem, a party neither in favor of independence nor against it, said that the appointment of ministers in jail or abroad would be an act of protest with no real effect. While he acknowledged that Turull, Rull, Comín and Puig have the right to be reinstated, Domènech believes that Catalan ministers should effectively be in the country.