Future of Catalan president in hands of Supreme Court

Quim Torra formally asks electoral authority not to implement his bar on office while he appeals decision in Spain's top court

Catalan president Quim Torra at the parliament's extraordinary plenary session on January 4, 2019 (by Mariona Puig)
Catalan president Quim Torra at the parliament's extraordinary plenary session on January 4, 2019 (by Mariona Puig) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

January 6, 2020 12:48 PM

As a New Year gets underway in Catalonia, the future of its president is up in the air after Spain's electoral authority, the JEC, has ordered Quim Torra be removed from his position after he was barred from office after being found guilty of disobedience.

On Tuesday, Torra received official notification from the authority ordering that he be suspended as a Catalan MP, and therefore as president. The notification included the objections by six of the 13 JEC board members, arguing that the body does not have the authority to disqualify him as president

Earlier in the day, Torra wrote to the JEC asking it not to implement his ban, as he intends to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court. After receiving the notification, the government said its lawyers were examining the document with a view to launching an appeal "in the next few hours."

Torra made a similar request of the electoral authority for the province of Barcelona on Saturday, when he also argued that the decision to disqualify him should be suspended while he appeals the decision in Spain's high court.

The JEC decided to remove Torra from office on Friday, basing its decision on the president's conviction for disobedience for failing to remove symbols in support of jailed independence leaders from public buildings during the April 2019 election campaign.

Parliament ratifies Torra as president

On Saturday, the Catalan parliament met in an extraordinary plenary session and ratified Torra as president, thanks to the votes of the three pro-independence parties, which together have a majority of seats in the chamber.

"The Catalan parliament rejects the resolution of the electoral board," read the text of Saturday's motion, describing the board's decision as a "coup d'état," and accusing Spain of launching a "general cause against the independence camp."

On the unionist side of parliament, the MPs from the Ciutadans party (Cs) left the chamber before the vote took place, while the conservative People's Party and the Catalan Socialists voted against the motion. 

Later, the Cs leader in parliament, Lorena Roldán, referred to Torra as the "former president" and expressed disappointment that Torra had not called an early election in Catalonia and rather had chosen to "hang on" to his post.