Left-wing, pro-independence party ERC this Monday declined to join the pro-independence movement promoted by presidents Carles Puigdemont and Quim Torra, presented later this afternoon, Crida Nacional per la República (National Call for the Republic). They do, however, wish it luck. They announced this position during their weekly press conference, in which spokesperson Marta Vilalta defended "unity of action, everyone from their political sphere".
"The country and the independence movement need a strong and powerful centre-right", said Vilalta. He added that "each of us has to be able grow within our spheres and then join together to be stronger" and, moreover, that "if the objective is the republic, we will continue getting on as always".
The movement promoted by Carles Puigdemont and Quim Torra aims to give political form to a cross-spectrum, united call from the independence movement and will get underway in the autumn. Sources close to the new "political subject" don't discount the possibility it will end up becoming a new political party.
It's for this reason that ERC didn't want to join the movement: "we see it as a process of restructuring of the centre-right", said Vilalta. She added, however, that they hope it will be "strong", because they believe that would strengthen the independence movement as a whole and help with the objective of creating a republic.
Vilalta said there had been no private conversations to present ERC with the proposal, that they'd learnt of it publicly. Despite declining to join, she said a delegation from the party would be attending the event presenting the movement in Barcelona.
"A judge cannot alter [parliamentary] majorities"
In response to questions from journalists, Vilalta defended the right of the imprisoned and exiled deputies to keep their seats in the Catalan Parliament, after judge Pablo Llarena ordered they be suspended. ERC's spokesperson said that the deputies should be able to keep their seats and their right to vote. She rejected the option that a judge can "alter the [parliamentary] majorities" formed following last December's Catalan election.
She also commented on images from the Valle de los Caídos this weekend, where thousands of people demonstrated under fascist and far-right symbols against the exhumation of dictator Francisco Franco. She said that such scenes have to be condemned and announced that, as such, ERC will promote a statement in the Parliament against the "fascism still in force" in Spain, for which they hope to bring together "the other parties which consider themselves to be democrats".
Finally, she also used the week press conference to urge Spain's public prosecutors to withdraw the charges against the pro-independence leaders over the events surrounding last year's Catalan referendum after the decision by a German court to not extradite Puigdemont for rebellion, only for the charge of misuse of public funds. Vilalta said that prosecutors have two options: "either act objectively or continue making fools of themselves", and urged them to stop playing the "embarrassing role" they've been playing recently.
"Germany has already said there wasn't violence, nor rebellion, nor sedition", she argued, adding that that demonstrates they are political prisoners because "where there's justice there aren't prisoners".