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President and opposition leader trade blows at fiery final question time showdown

Quim Torra and Inés Arrimadas in last parliamentary dance after months of disputes

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08 May 2019 03:04 PM

by

Daniel Wittenberg | Barcelona

"Can you hear that…? It's the sound of what you have achieved in the Catalan parliament – the sound of nothingness."

In their final parliamentary face-off before Inés Arrimadas steps down to enter Spain's national politics, President Quim Torra's riposte captured the tone of a typically belligerent exchange between the old foes.

The head of the Catalan government criticized Arrimadas for having done "nothing constructive" as leader of the opposition during her four and a half years in charge of the Catalan branch of unionist party Ciutadans.

Arrimadas replied that the pro-independence executive had done "nothing" to address Catalan issues and quipped that Torra was wearing a blindfold preventing him from seeing the "evil" he had enacted on society.

Rhetorical routines

And so their last waltz on the chamber floor went round and round… To the tunes of Catalan independence, dialogue, imprisoned leaders and republican symbols, each danced their familiar rhetorical routines.

Whilst Torra accused Arrimadas of representing "anti-politics" and claimed her party was "going into liquidation in Catalonia", she warned the president would end up having to flee justice if he disobeyed the courts.

"I don't know if he is hoping to become Carles Puigdemont's roommate in the flatshare for exiles in Belgium," she said of Torra, referring to his predecessor, who left Catalonia after the drive for independence in 2017.

Parting shots

The president's parting shots took the form of as some advice and an invitation. "In Madrid, talk about the problems the Catalan people are experiencing, and for now, make the most of your last few days as a Catalan MP."

Torra made a final attempt to persuade Arrimadas to engage in dialogue before she leaves for the Spanish Congress, "Come and talk to me", which soon descended into sarcasm: "Perhaps you can stop by our offices and take a look at the banner on the façade. It reads, 'Freedom of expression and opinion.'"

Although the characters change, in all likelihood the lines will stay the same. And there will be anything but silence.

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  • Inés Arrimadas looks disapprovingly at Quim Torra during the session

  • Inés Arrimadas looks disapprovingly at Quim Torra during the session

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