The speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Roger Torrent, has announced that he is going ahead with the debate for 3pm next Tuesday to invest Carles Puigdemont as president of Catalonia despite the Spanish cabinet's decision to appeal the candidacy to the Constitutional Court. However, after attacking what he described as an attempt by the Spanish executive to "suspend" democracy, he said a final response will have to wait until after the court pronounces its verdict. "When we have a formal response from the Constitutional Court, we'll work on the legal and political response to this situation," he said.
The speaker appeared in the Parliament after the deputy prime minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, confirmed that the Spanish cabinet had decided to ignore the verdict of the Council of State and ask the court to suspend Puigdemont's investiture.
"The challenge has no legal basis as any citizen with a minimum notion of the law knows and as the Council of State knows too. As such, the challenge is a fraud which attacks voters, deputies and parliamentary democracy and the basic principles of the parliamentary system", he warned after expressing regret that his proposals of dialogue receive "threats and the judicialisation of politics" as a response.
The senior official of the Catalan chamber, who before appearing had discussed the situation with the Parliament's secretary general, Xavier Muro, gave a carefully planned speech in which he avoided departing from a clear script.
The candidate's legitimacy
Torrent noted that he had proposed Puigdemont as candidate based on parliamentary democracy and not on a "whim or impulse"; that the nomination was the result of conversations with all parliamentary parties and that the candidate "fulfils all legal requirements and has full legitimacy to be [a candidate]"; that he was elected in an election with record participation and a clear result; and that Puigdemont stood in the election with no restrictions and, then, was able to formally become a deputy with the same rights as the other members of the chamber.
"This is a reality which cannot be suspended. Democracy cannot be suspended", he emphasised after criticised the Spanish government for saying with this message that the Catalan people "didn't vote well".
"Offering dialogue isn't at odds with with acting"
Torrent said that his obligation is to defend the rights of all deputies (including those in prison or in exile), the democratic mandate from the ballot boxes and the Parliament's sovereignty. He insisted that he's keeping his offer of dialogue open and his wish to carry out politics, and that he will never stop doing so. "Now, offering dialogue, wanting dialogue, isn't at odds with acting. It doesn't mean staying with your arms crossed," he said.
He announced that the Parliament's legal services will evaluate the central government's appeal on its legal merits and that, once the Constitutional Court announces its verdict, it will be politically analysed.
Torrent demanded respect for the public, the deputies, the institution and parliamentary democracy from the Spanish government. "I demand respect for all that and, above all, respect for the public's vote," he concluded.