Pere Aragonès becomes Catalonia’s interim president as cabinet replaces ousted leader
Vice president assumes top role with limited powers following Quim Torra’s ban from office
Catalan vice president Pere Aragonès was green-lighted as the new government chief in a cabinet meeting on Wednesday following Quim Torra's ban as president.
Aragonès’ interim presidency will be short-lived, as the two ruling pro-independence parties agreed that Torra’s ousting should lead to a new election, which is due to take place early next year.
On Monday, Spain’s Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s verdict, sentencing Torra for the crime of disobedience and punishing him with a 1.5-year ban from public office. The ousted president was tried for defying orders to remove yellow ribbons and other symbols in solidarity with jailed and exiled Catalan leaders from the government headquarters façade during an election period.
On Wednesday afternoon, Quim Torra addressed lawmakers in the Catalan parliament in a plenary session called to discuss his ousting as president, which he labeled as "Spain’s latest coup against Catalonia’s will".
While Torra initially hinted at the possibility of defying the court ban and clinging to his post, his resignation speech on Monday night made it clear that he would comply with the ruling.
On Tuesday night, Spain’s solicitor general ruled that Torra’s presidency ended right when the Supreme Court announced its decision, and therefore there was no need for the Catalan or Spanish Official Gazettes to publish his ousting for it to be effective.
Third president in three years
Aragonès has become Catalonia’s third president in just as many years, as Torra’s predecessor and party leader Carles Puigdemont was also ousted, in his case by the Spanish government for holding a referendum and declaring an independent Catalan republic in the fall of 2017.
The exceptional political circumstances that led to Torra’s unlikely rise to office—namely, the exile and imprisonment of a generation of pro-independence leaders—marked his brief presidency from the beginning to its end.
While Junts per Catalunya saw former president Puigdemont replaced by Torra, Aragonès also took over from the head of his Esquerra party, Oriol Junqueras, sentenced to 13 years in prison, as vice president and finance minister.