ERC put forward young MP Roger Torrent as candidate for Parliament president
The two main pro-independence parties also agree to elect Carles Puigdemont as president from Brussels
With only 24 hours until the opening session of the Catalan Parliament, the pro-independence bloc put forward Esquerra party (ERC) MP Roger Torrent as candidate to take over from Carme Forcadell as the new Parliament president. If elected, he would be the youngest Catalan Parliament President ever, at the age of 38, with five years as an MP under his belt.
The meetings to choose a candidate took place on Tuesday afternoon, with ERC communicating the decision to its pro-independence allies, Together for Catalonia (JxCat) and CUP. Later in the day, JxCat agreed to promote ERC's candidate for Parliament president, as well as one for the Catalan government: Carles Puigdemont.
Torrent's first challenge
When it comes to allowing Torrent’s appointment to go ahead, the three parties have the majority needed in the chamber. Indeed, in choosing a candidate for Parliament president, the pro-independence bloc has solved the first of a number of unknowns surrounding the new political term.
Once Torrent is in place, however, ERC, JxCat and CUP can begin to negotiate the rest of the details around forming a new government. Torrent's first challenge, if he is chosen to head the new Parliament bureau tomorrow, will in fact be to lead the decision on whether or not it is possible to elect Carles Puigdemont as president, even if he is in Brussels.
This is an issue on which the Spanish government has made itself abundantly clear - it deems it illegal, and it will not allow it. Another issue that will arise in the new Catalan parliament is whether MPs will be able to vote by proxy. The Spanish Supreme Court said it is for the chamber’s bureau to decide how those MPs in prison, but made no mention of the ones in Brussels. Meanwhile, Spanish government threatened to appeal in the Constitutional Court if the Catalan chamber allows the MPs in Belgium to vote from outside Catalonia, and might even challenge those in prison being able to do so.
All remains to be seen, however, starting at the start of the first plenary session at 11am.