The speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Roger Torrent, has this evening announced he is calling a debate on investing Jordi Turull (JxCat) as president of Catalonia for tomorrow, Thursday 22nd March, at 5pm. The debate, which was originally expected to come next week, has been moved forward after Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena summonsed the deputies, including Turull, involved in the investigation into last year's referendum for Friday. He will then inform them of his decision over their prosecution. That could lead to them being sent back into pretrial detention.
Torrent made the announcement in the Parliament this evening after having spoken by telephone to the different parliamentary parties to agree the session. After this round of talks, originally planned for tomorrow, he confirmed that "the only candidate proposed" was Turull and that he is "the one who could get the most votes". As such, he formally nominated the JxCat deputy. He had appeared this morning to announce that Jordi Sànchez had sent him a letter formally renouncing being a candidate for investiture.
The president defended his decision based on his "commitment to defend the Parliament's dignity, to protect all its deputies' political rights and to preserve the democratic mandate of the public". "We're all aware of the meddling and the interference the Parliament has experience in recent weeks. Regrettably this interference have already violated Jordi Sànchez's political rights. This interference could also happen this Friday," he said.
Facing the possibility of a new obstacle from the Supreme Court to an investiture, Torrent wanted to make it clear that "it's the Parliament's deputies who will decide whether Jordi Turull will be president of Catalonia or not in an effective investiture plenary session. Tomorrow we deputies are meeting to do what it's always up to us to do: to speak, debate and vote".
To be elected in a first-round vote, Turull needs the support of CUP, who, in a press conference this evening, said they will announce how they will vote at 3pm tomorrow. Party spokesperson, Lluc Salellas, denounced the debate as a "unilateral" decision by JxCat and ERC and said they would have preferred either Puigdemont to remain the candidate or a proposed government program including concrete steps towards constructing an independent republic. If they decide not to vote for Turull, he will have to go to a second round, presumably on Saturday, when a simple, rather than an absolute, majority is required.
Turull thus becomes the third candidate for president proposed by Torrent. First came Carles Puigdemont, who stepped aside after his investiture was blocked by a cautionary decision of the Constitutional Court. Next, as announced by Puigdemont, was Jordi Sànchez, currently in pretrial detention, whom the judge denied permission to attend the Parliament.