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Discrepancies in the pro-independence bloc over plenary suspension

Source from Puigdemont’s candidacy states they had not been informed about Parliament president’s move

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30 January 2018 01:51 PM

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ACN | Catalan Parliament (Barcelona)

Everyone in the Catalan Parliament is still waiting. The chamber’s president, Roger Torrent, announced a postponement of the investiture debate early on Tuesday, waiting for the Spanish Constitutional Court to take a final decision on Puigdemont’s bid to be reinstated as Catalan leader. The judges started a meeting on Wednesday at 1pm. While waiting for either the judges or Torrent himself to make a move, all groups in the chamber had their say. But, most notably, the pro-independence parties did not share a unanimous vision on the postponement.

Torrent’s party, Esquerra Republicana, welcomed the decision. Its jailed president, Oriol  Junqueras said via Twitter that the Parliament’s president guaranteed “the defense of the rights of all the democratically elected MPs.” His Twitter profile is managed by his team. 

Yet sources of Puigdemont’s candidacy, Together for Catalonia (JxCat), complained about not having been “informed” about Torrent’s intentions to postpone the session. Esquerra, though, argued that Torrent tried to reach the deposed Catalan president over the phone unsuccessfully. In any case, JxCat said that there was still time to hold the session on Tuesday as it was originally planned.

  • "Torrent’s decision is a submission to the state"

    Carles Riera · CUP MP

A similar approach was taken by the far-left also pro-independence party, the CUP. One of its MPs, Carles Riera, said that his group would take their seats in the hemicycle at 3pm, when the session was due to start. “Torrent’s decision is a submission to the state,” he said. “We are still on time to amend this serious political mistake, it is still possible for the plenary to be held today,” he added. 

In between pro-independence and unionist blocs, the leader of Catalonia in Common, Xavier Domènech, stated that Torrent’s move was “correct” and highlighted that, today, the Parliament president showed “great determination” in defending the institution and its “dignity.” Domènech stressed that his party’s priority is to overcome the takeover of Catalan institutions, but insisted that a “viable candidacy” for a president is needed to restore them. “The dilemma is not a person, it is a country,” he argued. 

The unionist bloc did not have a clear unitary position either. Inés Arrimadas, the leader of the most voted party in the chamber, Ciutadans, said that “an investiture debate cannot be held with a fugitive candidate,” referring to Puigdemont. She added that postponing the parliamentary session instead of cancelling it “does not solve the underlying problem, it puts it off, it prolongs the agony.” Ciutadans will submit an appeal to the Catalan Parliament president to protect their rights as MPs, the same move Puigdemont made on Monday. 

For his part, the leader of the Catalan People’s Party, Xavier García Albiol, welcomed the postponement of the debate, since he considers that it shows that the pro-independence bloc is divided and “disoriented.” "We have certainty that Carles Puigdemont has learned of the suspension of the plenary through the media,” he stressed. In addition, Albiol pointed out that the postponement of the investiture debate to choose a new Catalan president was possible thanks to the Spanish president, Mariano Rajoy, and to his cabinet’s strategy.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Catalan socialists, Miquel Iceta, welcomed the Parliament president’s decision. Iceta explained in a press conference that he agrees with Torrent’s move, as it was “prudent.” In addition, he noted that his party had already asked Torrent to cancel the plenary session, since evidence suggested that the candidate for president, Carles Puigdemont, would not turn up in person in Parliament. Still, Iceta insisted that pro-independence parties hold the majority in Parliament and that a unionist candidate for president would not have enough votes to be sworn in as a president.

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  • MPs during the opening session of the Catalan Parliament (by Elisenda Rosanas)

  • MPs during the opening session of the Catalan Parliament (by Elisenda Rosanas)

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