President condemns Spain's desire for 'vengeance' ahead of potential ousting

In annual general policies debate, Quim Torra makes no mention of early election and says "fighting Covid-19 is number one priority”

The Catalan president, Quim Torra, during his opening speech in the 2020 annual general policies speech, on September 16, 2020 (by Sílvia Jardí)
The Catalan president, Quim Torra, during his opening speech in the 2020 annual general policies speech, on September 16, 2020 (by Sílvia Jardí) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

September 16, 2020 11:35 AM

The Catalan president, Quim Torra, has condemned Spain's desire for "vengeance" ahead of his hearing before the Supreme Court that could see him ousted from power in the coming weeks.

In the annual general policies parliamentary debate on Wednesday, the Catalan leader said that the current term "has been affected by a perfect circle of repression" by Spain.

On Thursday, he will be in Madrid as the top Spanish court will review his disobedience case.

Catalonia's high court disqualified him in December 2019 for failing to remove signs in favor of pro-independence jailed leaders on time during a 2019 election campaign – yet, the decision is not final and the Supreme Court is expected to make a final ruling on the matter within the coming weeks, which could see Torra ousted from power.

In the past few months, the Catalan president has suggested he would call an early election before being removed from the country's top job.

Yet, in his opening speech of the annual key debate on Wednesday, he did not make any mention, paving the way for an interim period of around four months after his potential disqualification before an election is automatically called.  

Covid-19, priority number one

Instead, he focused his almost-two-hour speech on his government's actions and the fight against Covid-19.

"The pandemic is the priority number one of my executive," he said, adding that his government is working on the issue "every hour of the day."

"We are in a situation of emergencies in health, economy, work, and education," he also expressed, as he listed some of the latest measures in all areas enforced by his cabinet.

Indeed, he demanded some Spanish administrations to "make decisions" similar to Catalonia to avoid the spread of Covid-19 – such as the lockdown in Lleida over the summer – and said the Madrid region's outbreak risk is 500 (Catalonia's is 154, while the threshold for 'high' risk is 100).

He also asked Spain to regulate a paid leave for parents who have to look after children forced to isolate if they're contacts of a positive case, and dubbed a "monumental irresponsibility" not to implement the measure.

Economy and main policies

During his speech, Torra said he expects a GDP drop of 10% and a fast recovery in 2021, but "this will depend on making the most of European funds."

According to him, "with all resources and sovereignty," Catalonia would overcome the crisis more easily.

Catalonia's chief also listed some of his cabinet's priorities, including fighting depopulation of rural areas, covering 90% of Catalonia with fiber optic internet by 2021, reaching 2.12% of GDP expenditure in 2024 on R&D, which would be a quantity equaling the EU average.

Jobs and the industrial sector is one of the main concerns of the government, he explained, taking into account that industrial activity in Catalonia fell 1.3% in 2019 and 6.5% in July 2020 in comparison to the previous year – Nissan and other companies such as Bosch or Saint Gobain were mentioned by the president in the chamber.