Supreme Court rejects immediate overruling of decision to bar president Torra as MP

Provincial electoral board declares Quim Torra's Catalan Parliament MP seat vacant hours after he says he does "not recognize" the Supreme Court's ruling and affirms he is still an MP and president of Catalonia

Quim Torra speaks during a government act in January 2020 (by Marta Casado Pla)
Quim Torra speaks during a government act in January 2020 (by Marta Casado Pla) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

January 10, 2020 12:14 PM

Spain's Supreme Court has rejected calls for an immediate overruling of the Electoral Board's decision to bar Catalan president Quim Torra as an MP.

The pro-independence politician's defense team had requested an immediate suspension of the order to ensure Torra remains as Catalonia's president.

Yet, the judges said Torra's lawyers gave no reasons for any "particular urgency" in deciding on the matter and gave the electoral board and the public prosecutor five days to also have their say before a final deliberation is made.

Quim Torra rejected the ruling from Spain's top court, saying "we do not recognize the effects of the resolution of the Supreme Court." The Catalan executive also affirmed that he is "an MP and president of Catalonia."  

Roger Torrent, Catalan parliament speaker, defended Quim Torra's position as MP and therefore president of Catalonia in the wake of the Supreme Court's word.

Referring to a motion passed in the parliament last Saturday, the chamber speaker affirmed that "the Electoral Board does not have the capacity" to disqualify an MP, and still considers Torra as such.

Hours later, the provincial electoral board declared Quim Torra's Catalan Parliament MP seat vacant and transferred it to Ferran Mascarell.

The head of the Catalan government was convicted of disobedience in December for failing to remove symbols in support of jailed independence leaders from public buildings during the April 2019 election campaign. Although the conviction is not final, the electoral authority has already barred Torra as an MP, pending his appeal, also in the Supreme Court.

Unionists celebrate Supreme Court ruling

Unionist Ciutadans have stated that Quim Torra is no longer the Catalan executive after the Supreme Court’s decision to refuse to suspend the Electoral Authority's decision to bar Torra from office immediately. 

Inés Arrimadas urged the president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, not to meet with Torra, as had been agreed between the politicians on Thursday, as “he is no longer president.” 

“What do you have to speak about with Torra, a convicted former MP and former president who threatens to break the law every day?” she asked.  "He was so brave to disobey, so brave he must be now to accept the consequences."

Will Torra be automatically barred from Catalonia's presidency?

In its decision, the electoral board did not mention the presidential post and only explicitly ordered that Torra be removed as MP – but according to Catalan law, the president has to remain MP in order to take office.

Catalonia's president's defense argues that the law does not say that the president needs to remain as Member of Parliament during their entire term.

Catalan law does not consider the electoral board ousting the president, but only "a final criminal sentence that involves a disqualification of public office."

Torra's party had requested that the ruling not come into effect until the Supreme Court –the only one able to give final sentences– confirmed his disqualification after a reconsideration of his trial.