Right-wing unionists make legal moves to stop pro-independence leaders

Ciutadans asks president be barred from office even though his disqualification is not final, while far-right Vox calls for Junqueras to stay in jail


Image of Ciutadans' leader, Inés Arrimadas, on December 3, 2019 (by Javier Barbancho)
Image of Ciutadans' leader, Inés Arrimadas, on December 3, 2019 (by Javier Barbancho) / Guifré Jordan

Guifré Jordan | Barcelona

December 23, 2019 05:28 PM

The latest legal battles over the independence issue not only involve those parties and leaders in favor of a Catalan republic, but also the political forces campaigning to keep Spain's borders as they are. 

Ciutadans and the People's Party asked the electoral authority on Monday to bar President Quim Torra from office after he was sentenced to an 18-month disqualification by Catalonia's high court. This is despite the decision not being final, as the head of government can still appeal it in the Supreme Court. 

Torra was convicted last week after failing to comply in time with an order from Spain's electoral authority to take down signs in support of jailed independence leaders from the Catalan government HQ during the electoral campaign in April.

The electoral authority gave Torra 66 hours to respond to the unionist petitions for him to be removed from power – 48 of which were Saturday and Sunday – and on Monday morning he replied saying the electoral board has no powers to oust him, and less so without a final verdict on the issue. 

On Tuesday morning, Spain's electoral authority ruled out ousting Quim Torra from Catalonia's presidency as right-wing unionist parties had requested - the body in charge of elections argued that his guilty verdict isn't final. 

Stripping Puigdemont's seat in Catalan parliament 

Both Ciutadans and the People's Party have also asked for former president Carles Puigdemont to lose his status as a Catalan MP because he has started the procedure to become an MEP, arguing that the posts are incompatible. 

Should this happen, his chances of being reinstated as president this term will be at end, because in order to be elected the head of government he has to be an MP.

Far right wants to keep Junqueras in jail

Puigdemont's new situation is due to the EU court ruling confirming the immunity of jailed leader Oriol Junqueras. Spain's Supreme Court now has to decide whether to release Junqueras to comply with the ruling, or as he is no longer in preventive detention, decide that the European decision no longer applies. 

The far-right Vox party, acting as a private prosecutor, has already asked the Supreme Court to keep Junqueras behind bars, "because there is no cause that prevents it."

Meanwhile, on Friday afternoon, the People's Party formally requested to the Electoral Authority to suspend Oriol Junqueras as an MEP on the grounds of ineligibility. 

Pablo Casado's party argues that a "firm" ruling should be handed, and reminds that the ERC head has already been given a sentence barring him from public office from the Catalan Trial guilty vercict.