Catalan parties criticize post-referendum speech in meetings with king
Party representatives rebuke Spanish monarch for "taking sides" after 2017 vote in traditional round of post-electoral meetings
Representatives of Catalan parties in the Spanish parliament expressed criticism of the king's response to the 2017 independence bid on Thursday, in the traditional round of meetings with the monarch that take place following a general election.
Laura Borràs, spokeswoman for the pro-independence Junts per Catalunya party (JxCat), accused King Felipe VI of "taking sides" in the televised speech he gave two days after the unilateral independence referendum on October 1, 2017.
Talking to the press after the 45-minute meeting with the king, Borràs said she also expressed her party's displeasure that the Supreme Court did not allow Jordi Sànchez out of prison to meet the king, and she presented Felipe with a letter from the JxCat head.
"Perhaps they thought allowing him out of prison to go to La Zarzuela [palace] would damage the Crown's image, but what damages the image of this democracy is the existence of political prisoners," added Borràs.
Speech created "climate of hostility," says ECP
The head of the leftwing En Comú Podem party (ECP) in Congress, Jaume Asens, also said he brought up the king's speech, telling Felipe that it created a "climate of hostility." Without detailing his response, Asens said that the king "defended the content" of his speech.
"What damages the image of this democracy is the existence of political prisoners"
Laura Borràs · Junts per Catalunya MP in Madrid
Asens said that he told the king that the October 1 referendum should be seen as a "legitimate public protest" and he criticized the monarch's condemnation of the vote two days later as helping to bring about the trial of independence leaders in the Supreme Court.
While not pro-independence, ECP favors a self-determination referendum in Catalonia, and Asens said he passed on a message from jailed activist leader, Jordi Cuixart, urging the king to listen to the 'Som el 80%' platform that lobbies for such a vote.
No representative of the repubican Esquerra party (ERC) attended the round of meetings. It's leader, former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras, is also in prison on trial, while the party calls for Catalonia to be independent.
Meeting Catalan parties "democratic anomaly," says Vox
While the Catalan party representatives said the meetings with the king had been "cordial," the head of the rightwing Vox party, Santiago Abascal, denounced the "democratic anomaly" of the king meeting members of parties "that have acted like criminal organizations."
In a press conference following his meeting with the monarch, Abascal regretted that the state has no "mechanisms" for "preventing" these types of situations, and he said he had congratulated Felipe on his "historic" speech on October 3 to halt the "coup d'etat."