Quim Torra is no longer president of the Generalitat of Catalonia. The Spanish state has this Monday brought to an end a period of 865 days during which he was at the helm of the Catalan government, and following in the line which is beginning to be an unfortunate way of going about things, the state has turned against the Catalan institutions and has removed him. With a haste completely out of character with their usual way of acting, just eleven days after the Supreme Court heard the cassation appeal, the five judges unanimously confirmed in broad strokes the sentence of the High Court of Catalonia, they then returned the case to that sentencing court as required and the Catalan court executed it, all in a matter of hours. To give you an idea: it was after 1pm when the appeal ruling was signed in Madrid and before 8pm, Quim Torra was already leaving the Catalan government palace through the main door onto Plaça Sant Jaume, as a former president. At this judicial velocity it is more than likely that king emeritus Juan Carlos I would not have had time to escape to the United Arab Emirates for his golden exile.
It is undoubtedly an unacceptable and inadmissible sentence. The fact that the Spanish state has found the key to removing Catalan presidents whenever it pleases and in this way ends up reversing what Catalans vote for at the polls should not leave anyone indifferent. It is clear that there will be elections in Catalonia again and the pro-independence bloc will once again confirm its absolute majority in Parliament. This is clear, and confirmed by all opinion polls. Ballot boxes are not a problem for the independence movement, as has been amply demonstrated; the problem is democracy, the lack of democracy. Passivity as a way to avoid facing injustice even by those in judge's robes. A refusal to face the political conflict once and for all, exhibited firstly by a PP government and now by a PSOE-Unidas Podemos-Comuns government, has validated the path of repression and judicialization in Catalonia. It is somewhat embarrassing that the first reaction of the self-styled "most left-wing government in Spanish history", and its first coalition government, was to say that it no longer considers president Torra as someone with whom it should dialogue. But was there ever a time when it did?
Because the point is, without Quim Torra, the problem will continue to exist. In 2012, they believed that the problem was Artur Mas and in 2016 they jumped for joy because Mas was no longer there and Carles Puigdemont had arrived. This state of mind with the former mayor of Girona did not last long and Puigdemont quickly began to arouse all the ire of the Spanish deep state. I remember some comments made at the very first moment of Torra's arrival, a few weeks before his election to Parliament, in May 2018, by a prominent representative of the so-called Upper Diagonal business community, emphasizing the fact that the new president was an intellectual, and his view that he would cool the conflict with the Spanish state. Since then it has worked tirelessly to make life impossible for him whenever it could.
What is Torra's legacy? This is still difficult to say today but if Pujol is considered by Catalanisme as the president who shaped the contemporary identity of the Catalan nation, Maragall was the president of the Statute of Autonomy, Montilla the one who gave the response to the Constitutional Court's ruling on the Statute, Mas the leader who made the leap from autonomy to independence and Puigdemont the president of the October 1st referendum and Parliament's declaration of independence, then Quim Torra will surely be considered in the future as the president of the pandemic. The president who, without great political powers and in a not at all prosperous economic situation, gave an effective response to the coronavirus pandemic. All the weaknesses he has shown in other areas have been cancelled out by his energetic response to a problem of colossal dimensions. And it is indisputable that, in this, he has risen to the challenge.
Perhaps that is why he is calmly and serenely taking his leave from the world of party political interaction, which has never been his, and from which the coronavirus has come to rescue him. His last speech as president of Catalonia from the Palau de la Generalitat, a kind of political testament, is very eloquent. He leaves as solitary as when he arrived, distanced from the parties with which he has coexisted but never fused. His speech's repeated appeals to the Catalan people could not be more expressive of this feeling of solitude: "You are the only hope we have to climb out of this pit, where the Spanish state wants to bury us, over and over again."