Catalan president Quim Torra yesterday held an informal meeting with his ministers to discuss his speech this morning in the Catalan Parliament, but he didn't tell them he planned to announce his support for Catalonia "exercising again the right to self-determination during this legislature".
Similarly, he hadn't said anything on the subject in Tuesday's cabinet meeting, nor in the meetings he'd held with members of JxCat alone. Only those closest to him were aware of the proposal.
Referendum or plebiscite
After the plenary session, Torra's advisers argued that the other political groups and the ministers were already aware of his opinion and that the president has always argued that a new vote will be needed before the legislature ends. That vote can be a referendum agreed with Madrid or not, or a plebiscite election. The president reportedly prefers the third option, but wants it to come from an agreement between all the relevant parties. If possible. However, the president made it clear today that he's prepared to forge ahead regardless.
His speech to the chamber caused surprise, both among pro- and anti-independence delegates, as well as among his ministers. Worry too.
ERC's unease was shown immediately by party spokesperson Sergi Sabrià from the rostrum. He said they had not been informed of the suggestion and that it's not the time to be setting dates. Vice-president Pere Aragonès, also of ERC, expressed his irritation to the president in a meeting in his office in the Parliament also attended by presidency minister Meritxell Budó. Prior to that, Aragonès had met with the chamber's speaker, Roger Torrent (ERC).
But the fact they hadn't been alerted in advance didn't best please the ministers and delegates of JxCat either.
After the debate in the Parliament there was a scheduled meeting of the members of JxCat, which some of them used as a chance to express their opposition to the president's announcement. They complained both about not having had the opportunity to consider and agree upon the proposal, as for the contents of the suggestion itself.
Although sources close to the president insist that he had explained his ideas repeatedly and to play down the controversy, they haven't managed to put an end to the issue. JxCat leaders say that Torra will discuss it with president Carles Puigdemont in Waterloo.
This Thursday, both in the government and the corridors of the Parliament, there was no lack of voices saying that the only thing Torra has done is show that he "is alone".
Torra's speech: key quotes
"This legislature, if between all the parties and organisations we make it possible, we should be able to finish validating independence."
"We're in a sad and pitiful situation. A state which calls itself democratic and [dedicated to the rule] of law is dedicating itself to violating rights and principles as fundamental as the separation of powers."
"The day I can't explain myself with sincerity to the people of Catalonia, that day I won't be able to continue."
"The truth is that in this Chamber, we will debate again the right to self-determination, and no court will prevent this president from promoting any initiative he should consider necessary regarding this right."
"We are a people of peace and we reject any spark of violence."