Catalan president calls for replacement after parliament speaker conviction

'Malpractice proven,' says government, as opposition also calls on parliament speaker to step down

Catalan president Pere Aragonès speaks to media outlets after the announcement of suspended parliament speaker Laura Borràs' sentence on March 30, 2023
Catalan president Pere Aragonès speaks to media outlets after the announcement of suspended parliament speaker Laura Borràs' sentence on March 30, 2023 / Aina Martí
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

March 30, 2023 04:12 PM

March 30, 2023 08:18 PM

News of suspended parliament speaker Laura Borràs' corruption conviction spread through Catalonia's political sphere immediately after it was leaked on Thursday morning and confirmed by the High Court hours later, with all parties save Junts, her own, condemning the crimes the politician was found guilty of.

Catalan president, Pere Aragonès, of Esquerra, the party Junts was in coalition with until last October, separated Laura Borràs' corruption conviction from the "repression" against the independence movement and called on for the parliament to name a replacement speaker.

Meanwhile, ERC will not ask for the suspended parliament speaker to step down until the verdict is not final but has already asked to find a "new agreement" between pro-independence forces ahead of a decision by the Central Electoral Board (JEC).  

For Aragonès, however, the court's decision shows that acts "against the good management of public funds" were perpetrated, so he urged to set "some guarantees" that prevent this from happening again.

And as the president believes there "is no relation between political and judicial repression" suffered by other pro-independence figures and Borràs' case, she "should not use the independence movement as a shield." 

On a similar note the Catalan presidency minister, Laura Vilagrà, said that "malpractice had been proven" not long after Borràs was convicted for irregularly awarding public contracts while at the head of the Institute of Catalan Letters.  

While the presidency minister stressed there was "no room for this in Catalan institutions," she also noted the ruling itself had opened the door to the possibility of a Spanish government pardon given the "disproportionate" 4-and-a-half-year sentence and 13-year disqualification.


The Catalan Socialists have called on Borràs to "step aside" from her parliament speaker role in order to "re-establish" normality in the chamber. Spokesperson for the Socialist Party, Alícia Romero, said that it would be "reasonable" for Borràs to leave the post vacant out of a sense of "responsibility." 


Romero acknowledged that it would be up to the three pro-independence parties ERC, Junts, and CUP to put forward a candidate for new speaker, but she also said that her party would "offer" to resolve the situation. She didn't rule out that the Socialists would put forward a candidate, but played down the importance of holding the position.

Similarly, anti-austerity En Comú Podem's Jessica Albiach demanded Borràs resign, saying it was "a shame" that "the president of the country's second-most important institution has been found guilty of corruption for the first time ever."

Far-right Vox, meanwhile, has already asked the electoral board to strip Borràs of her seat as MP, while the conservative People's Party has vowed to "take action" and bring the case to the electoral board if she does not step down herself.

Indeed, the authority ruling over electoral processes may play a crucial role in deciding whether Borràs can keep their post as speaker or must step down despite not having a final sentence.

Carlos Carrizosa of the liberal Ciudadanos party also called on the electoral board to remove Borràs' status as an MP. The Cs leader in Catalonia was surprised to hear of the court's request for a partial pardon and demanded that the Spanish government not grant it. 

For him, Borràs is a component of the "corruption that shakes Catalonia," and he emphasized that she "does not deserve a pardon."

Far-left pro-independence CUP party has also asked for Borràs to step down as "she has been sentenced for some actions that do not have any relationship with the independence movement, the October 2017 referendum, or any independence push action."

Junts: party to fight for her position

Hours after the verdict was announced and Junts president Laura Borràs said it was an "unfair trial, with judges at the service of Spain's unity," the party she leads announced it would fight against any action to oust Laura Borràs as parliament speaker.

General secretary Jordi Turull, one of the several pardoned pro-independence figures after spending 3.5 years in jail for his role in the 2017 referendum, said that he would focus "all his efforts" on avoiding the verdict affecting the party's day-to-day.

"We will fight against" the JEC ousting Borràs, he added.

Spanish government to treat partial pardon petition as "others"

One of the judges decision's was to request the Spanish government to partially pardon Laura Borràs to reduce her sentence by two and a half years, thereby avoiding prison time.

Asked about this, transport ministers Raquel Sánchez already confirmed that the government has "absolute respect" regarding verdicts and that even though the "sentence is not final."

If the moment to pardon Borràs partially comes, "with a final ruling, the competent court will ask the government for this partial pardon, and the executive will treat it as all the others."