President’s dilemma: attending his trial or a key debate in Parliament?

Quim Torra has been summoned to court on September 25, the same date the annual general policy session had been called in the chamber

President Quim Torra addressing an audience at the presentation of the IdentiCAT project. (Photo: Miquel Codolar)
President Quim Torra addressing an audience at the presentation of the IdentiCAT project. (Photo: Miquel Codolar) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

September 10, 2019 03:11 PM

Quim Torra has a rather busy schedule on September 25 – the Catalan president will face a trial for disobedience over the yellow ribbon controversy that day and the next one, the very same days that the annual general policy debate will be held in Parliament. 

Neither the court nor the chamber will change their dates, as both institutions confirmed on Tuesday – the parliament kept its plans at the government’s explicit request, while the court ruled out any change arguing no debate has been officially called in parliament yet. 

Indeed in a recent conference in Madrid, the president said he would ask neither the court nor the parliament to change dates, and suggested that it is for the judges to decide whether they have to reschedule it. “It is not for me to decide, but for the court. They will know whether they believe in the separation of powers,” he said.

The annual general policy debate was scheduled for that day two months before Torra was summoned for September 25. 

Both events coincide, and he is supposed to attend both, but the president opted not to request changes to any changes, and now he is facing a dilemma: attending the court for his own trial, or a key debate in Parliament? 

Although he has not announced any decision on the issue, he suggested last weekend that he might not turn up his trial, thus potentially leading to a more intense clash with Spain’s judiciary. 

“Not attending [the trial] would be showing that you are standing firm facing the state. When we are talking about democratic confrontation, what are we talking about? Standing firm against a repressive, authoritarian state,” he said in an interview with El Punt Avui TV. 

“We are working within four big principles: democracy, republicanism, human and political rights, and disobedience and non-violence. It is based on these principles in which we are starting this new phase that I will take the decision.” 

Opposition criticism

The unionist opposition has criticized Torra for his move to avoid asking the parliament for a reschedule. 

Ciutadans’ MP Nacho Martín Blanco said the president “is not a God above the laws.”

For him, this is “an attempt to generate confrontation again between the Catalan parliament and the rule of law institutions.”

The Socialists also condemned the fact that Torra has not asked for a date change of the general policy debate and the party parliamentary spokesperson, Eva Granados, accused him of “irresponsibly promoting the confrontation between institutions.”