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The second disqualification from public office for former Catalan president Quim Torra, this time imposed by Barcelona criminal court number 6 and made public on Wednesday, sentences him to a fifteen month ban on holding office and obliges him to pay a fine of 24,000 euros. As in the previous sentence decided by the Catalan High Court (TSJC), the more senior court which convicted him over the first complaint since at that time he was president of Catalonia, the offence is to have hung from the balcony of the Generalitat palace a banner in defence of the Catalan political prisoners and in favor of the return of the exiles. And this time there is a nuance which should be noted: if the first conviction, which in the end cost him his position, was an outrage, but was backed by the TSJC with the argument that political neutrality was neutral during election campaigns, the second time, there was not even that excuse, because everything happened in September 2019, clearly outside any election period.

But what most caught my attention was not the conviction, already a foregone conclusion after plenty of similar examples that show the level of arbitrariness of the Spanish judiciary when it faces cases related to the independence movement. Even when the victim is Quim Torra, a politician who is today far from the front line, installed in the Girona area in his office as a former president and without any platform that allows him to engage in public activity. No, the most surprising thing was the reaction to the conviction decided by criminal court number 6 in Barcelona. A few tweets, a few statements, not many, from his former Junts political colleagues and a few phrases of support tossed into the bottomless current of information that rolls by each day. Nothing more.

Quim Torra was a controversial president who ended up being uncomfortable for ERC and also for a not-insignificant sector of Junts. Saying this is not to reveal any great secret from the depths of the Palau de la Generalitat but rather to confirm what that period of Catalan politics between 2018 and 2020 signified, that period when he was at the helm of the government. But in the failure to distinguish between the opinion that everyone may have of what that presidency was and the court rulings against him there is an abyss. Moreover, the silence ends up being a perverse response that legitimizes the justice system's invasion of the field of politics, in which it should never set foot. This is not a question of positioning oneself for or against the former president, but of defending the institution, giving it the consideration and respect it deserves, and of preserving it, starting with the inconceivability that a judge of any rank should be able bring down a president of the Catalonia in this way without it having consequences.

The silence does nothing but belittle the institution in the face of public opinion. As tied up as the parties are in politicking, they sometimes forget that in order to win a few votes they can end up fouling their own nest. This is true for the pro-independence parties, but also for the Socialists and the Comuns who, at one time or another in the past, have been part of the Catalan government. For the PP and Ciudadanos, perhaps, indulging in the practice is understandable, since they have never managed to form a Catalan government and it does not seem likely that this will ever happen. They had their moment of glory with the suspension of Catalan autonomy and the application of Article 155 of the Constitution, but it was short-lived and with new elections, normal transmission resumed and Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría and her boys had to bow their heads and return the pro-independence parties to power.

The truth is that Catalonia has little power and there are few things that symbolize this more than the presidency of the Generalitat, no matter who occupies it. There is not much else to preserve, as evidenced by the strength of presidents throughout history and how Spain has sought to keep them bound hand and foot, by exiling them, imprisoning them and even executing them. Churchill once said that a nation that forgets its past has no future. And this remains a valid maxim not only for politicians, but also for ordinary citizens, several decades later and hundreds of miles from Whitehall.