Catalan Parliament might elect new president on Thursday

Pro-independence parties in talks to swear in MP Jordi Turull a day before his potential new imprisonment

Jordi Turull alongside Albert Batet and Damià Calvet at Parliament (by ACN)
Jordi Turull alongside Albert Batet and Damià Calvet at Parliament (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

March 21, 2018 08:05 PM

An unexpected turn of events in the Catalan parliament took place on Wednesday evening. After three months of negotiations and two nominated candidates blocked by the Spanish courts, the pro-independence parties held talks on whether to swear in a new leader for the country on Thursday, with 24-hour notice.

The reason is that after jailed Jordi Sànchez withdrew his bid, the backup plan for the main pro-independence candidacy, Junts per Catalunya, is senior MP Jordi Turull, but the Spanish Supreme Court might send him to jail on Friday. If this happens, it would be something unprecedented for democracy in the country. Having an elected president in prison has happened only once in Catalonia’s recent history – in dictator Franco’s time.

Spanish Supreme Court summons

The Spanish Supreme Court, in charge of the pro-independence judicial case, summoned six investigated officials on Friday to discuss whether to incarcerate them – again. Among them was Jordi Turull, who had already been in prison for one month before being released.

All in all, 28 individuals are being investigated for the role they played in Catalonia's push for independence. This time, however, the Spanish court is only summoning six of them. These half a dozen officials are the only ones who aren’t in prison or abroad, and are still acting MPs in Parliament while out on a bail.

Jailed indicted individuals barred from office

Under Spanish law, while an investigated individual is in pre-trial prison after being indicted, “they will be automatically barred from office,” if they hold a public service position. This would mean that Oriol Junqueras and Jordi Sànchez – and potentially, the six officials summoned on Friday – would be stripped of their status as MPs. This would also affect Jordi Turull in the case he is elected and he would be stripped of the presidency.

Yet, the indictment can be appealed by their defense, so this would only happen when a final judgment on the matter is taken. Concerning Carles Puigdemont and his four deposed ministers in Belgium, some media outlets report that the judge is considering reissuing a European arrest warrant against them.