Torra vows to ‘seek justice in Europe’ following Spanish court ban as Catalan president
Deposed head of government hints at new election "within months” after Supreme Court upholds disobedience verdict
Quim Torra has pledged to seek justice in Europe following his ousting as Catalan president by Spain’s Supreme Court, which earlier on Monday ruled to uphold his 1.5-year ban from public office for disobedience.
"Some judges, not the Catalan people, decided that I can no longer be president," he said in a televised address. "No unjust law applied for the purpose of revenge against those who defend human and universal human rights will ever be able to defeat democracy. And I assure you that the irregularities committed to overthrow another president will be judged in Europe."
While claiming he did not "accept" the ruling, Torra’s announcement made clear that he would not attempt to cling to power, and hinted at a new election in the "coming months," which he said should serve as a plebiscite on the mandante of the 2017 referendum on independence.
"I assure you that the irregularities committed to overthrowing another president will be judged in Europe"
Quim Torra · Deposed Catalan president
Since coming to power in May 2018, Torra’s presidency was marked by the exceptional political circumstances that led to his unlikely rise to office—namely, the referendum push and the subsequent prosecution of Catalonia’s top political leaders. It was indeed his unwillingness to withdraw signs in favor of jailed and exiled pro-independence leaders from the government headquarters’ façade during an election period in 2019 that eventually led to his disqualification.
"We don’t have the independent Catalan republic we were committed to building together. That’s how far I’ve come, and believe me when I say that I was ready to face any consequences," said Torra.
In his speech, Torra appeared escorted by his government's ministers, including vice president Pere Aragonès, who is expected to act as an interim president until Catalans head to the polls.
Yellow ribbon trial
The president was tried for failing to comply with an Electoral Board order to remove symbols deemed “partisan” on time in the run-up to the Spanish general election at the end of April, 2019.
Torra initially refused, before eventually replacing the banner for one defending freedom of speech, but not until after the deadline he was given to remove the yellow ribbon banner had passed.
In court, the president argued that the electoral board "had no right to issue an order" for him to remove the banner.
Torra went on to admit in court that he had "disobeyed" Spain's electoral authority by failing to remove the symbols, but added that "complying with an illegal order was impossible." He denied that the expression 'political prisoners' that featured on the banner was partisan, arguing that "it is a way of speaking permitted by freedom of speech."