Parliament's top public servant gives order to withdraw Torra’s MP status

President responds government is at risk of collapsing and pressure now on speaker Torrent

General shot of the Catalan parliament in session on January 4, 2020 (by Mariona Puig)
General shot of the Catalan parliament in session on January 4, 2020 (by Mariona Puig) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

January 27, 2020 11:24 AM

The Catalan parliament's top public servant, Xavier Muro, gave the order to withdraw the MP status of President Quim Torra on Monday morning. 

The decision followed the electoral board ordering the chamber to execute its ruling on Torra, which was later greenlighted by Spain's Supreme Court

Muro, secretary general of the parliament, argued that the Supreme Court giving its go-ahead has changed the situation and it needs to be enforced now. 

Quim Torra, who will stay as president for now even if he is in the end disqualified as MP, responded saying Muro has no power to order the withdrawal of his seat. 

He also warned that "the government is at risk of collapsing" if he is ousted in the end, according to sources close to him commenting on the issue to the Catalan News Agency (ACN). 

"Is this parliament at the hands of the citizens' representatives or secretary generals and lawyers that change stances?"

Pressure on parliament speaker

"Will speaker Torrent allow that a secretary general orders and removes MPs? The person in charge is the speaker," say the same sources.

Indeed, all pressure is now on the parliament speaker, Roger Torrent, who will chair a bureau meeting on Monday at 12.30pm.

Torrent will have to decide whether to uphold Muro's decision, risking a snap election and subsequently halting the budget bill – the chamber has not passed a spending plan since 2017.

If the speaker decides not to disqualify Torra as MP, future parliamentary votes might be challenged by right-wing unionist parties, and Torrent himself might end up entangled in a criminal case for disobedience.

Torra and his pro-independence party, Junts per Catalunya, reject him being suspended as MP – Torrent is a senior member for another pro-independence force in government, Esquerra Republicana. A decision against the president might mean a clash between both parties and the government may tumble.

In parallel on Monday, the provincial electoral board passed Quim Torra's parliament seat to Maria Senserrich, the person next in Junts per Catalunya's electoral roll