Catalan president promotes local mayor to prominent government spokesperson role
Quim Torra is set to install Meritxell Budó as the new face of his administration
Centrist local mayor and former pharmaceutics professional Meritxell Budó is to take over as spokesperson for the Catalan government and Minister of the Presidency in the coming days, the Catalan News Agency (ACN) has learned.
Budó, currently mayor of a population of 15,000 people in La Garriga, central Catalonia, and second vice-president of Barcelona provincial council, will replace outgoing minister Elsa Artadi after her nine months in the high-profile office.
Artadi will stand as No.2 behind Joaquim Forn on the centrist Together for Catalonia electoral list in the Barcelona town hall elections on May 26.
Since Forn, the former Catalan interior minister, is one of the 12 pro-independence leaders currently on trial and in preventative prison, this could make Artadi the de facto Barcelona mayor if her governing party is successful on a local level.
Although the reshuffle comes two months before Catalan parliament elections on the same day, Budó is not intended as a stop-gap replacement.
The 50-year-old told ACN over the weekend that she had made herself "available" to Catalan President Quim Torra for as soon as the other cabinet moves are confirmed, with Torra also shortly expected to appoint a new culture minister.
She added that she has been in communication with Jordi Turull, who carried out the dual role before his arrest and ongoing implication in the Catalan independence trial, and whom she regards as the "legitimate" holder of the portfolio.
A graduate in pharmacy from the University of Barcelona, Budó enjoyed a prosperous career in the medicines industry before entering politics in 2006.
She is an ally of ousted Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, having started alongside him in the CDC party.