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No ministers, nor junior ministers, nor political leaders, nor representatives of the Spanish political parties. The press conference with Catalan president Quim Torra organised by news agency Europa Press may have sparked great interest from the media, but it was a different story when it came to the political class and the Madrid establishment.

quim torra europa press madrid 5 setembre 2019

Photo: Europa Press

Although such events with the presidents of Spain's autonomous communities normally tend to be attended by at least one minister or high-ranking representative of the central government, the only ones who showed up at Madrid's Villa Magna hotel today were the general secretary of territorial policy coordination, Myriam Álvarez, and the director general of Autonomous Community Cooperation and secretary of the Spain-Catalonia bilateral commission, José María Pérez Medina. They were both at the presidential table alongside the three Catalan ministers who had joined Torra. Also at that table was Juan Antonio Puigserver, technical secretary in the interior ministry when Rajoy was prime minister who took over control of Catalonia's Mossos police force when Madrid intervened in Catalonia following the 2017 referendum.

Besides the Catalan pro-independence parties, only EH Bildu sent a representative, namely deputy Jon Iñarritu. From Catalonia there were many deputies from both Barcelona and Madrid from JxCat, and ERC Congress deputies Carolina Telechea and Joan Capdevila, who listened to Torra disagree with their party's positions on investing Sánchez as Spanish PM and on an early election in Catalonia. The Catalan ministers present were Meritxell Budó, presidency minister and spokesperson, Jordi Puigneró, digital policy minister, and Alba Vergès, health minister.

From Spanish financial circles there was no notable representation; from Catalonia had come Josep Sànchez-Llibre, the president of employers' association Foment, and the president of the Chamber of Commerce, Joan Canadell. The diplomatic corps, on the other hand, was represented for Torra's speech.

The Villa Magna hotel is a common location for political and financial meetings. As such, whilst the president was speaking in a room on the ground floor, a wide range of familiar faces from Madrid were in the building, just in the bars and rooms above him.

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