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It has been 10 days since the Catalan Parliament's official gazette confirmed, through publication of the fact, that the CUP deputy Pau Juvillà had lost his seat, after several weeks in which the three pro-independence parties and the left-wing Comuns tried unsuccessfully to preserve his status. The episode has shaken the independence movement's majority: since the gazette announced the news, the speaker of the chamber, Laura Borràs, had only given an explanation of what happened in a media interview, in which she criticized the other parties, ERC and CUP, for not having supported her in a proposal of disobedience that she herself had allegedly put forward. After the noise of those days, today Borràs has finally given a public explanation. Principally, she accuses the public servants in Parliament from having proceeded incorrectly and consequently made several proposals to change internal operations and prevent similar situations from arising in the future.

Her appearance took place this Monday at the end of a scheduled meeting of Parliament's Board of Spokespeople, consisting of representatives of each party. Borràs's address was made accessible as an open broadcast, a move that has not taken place since 2003, when it was the approach used for issues related to terrorism, as the speaker herself remarked. Sources close to the speaker explained that it was her own wish to appear, while opposition groups asserted that it was in response to pressure. In her presentation of what happened, she gave a full chronology of the sequence of events over the weeks since Juvillà was sentenced to a 6 month ban from office by the High Court of Catalonia for not removing symbolic yellow ribbons from a window, running through the actions taken to preserve the sovereignty of Parliament and the clash with Spain's Central Electoral Commission (JEC).

After explaining these details, and even correcting some things she had said so far - such as the assertion that Juvillà had not voted in the plenary session of December 17th due to a conflict of interest, when, in fact, he did - she made a clear proposal arising from the fact that the sovereignty of the Catalan Parliament is "continuously questioned": she suggested specific modifications to parliamentary rules that would help to protect the integrity of the institution. Furthermore, Borràs asked the political groups to assess the possibility of asking the Congress of Deputies to amend the Spanish electoral (LOREG) to ensure the "inviolability" of elected deputies. And she asked the parties to draft a law that would, as a minimum, regulate the electoral administration that would watch over electoral processes in Catalonia: a Catalan electoral commission.


Differences with Torrent

Beyond these proposals, she also accused parliamentary officials of acting improperly: she considered it "an anomaly" for the chamber's public servants to act on orders from the secretary general, the head of parliamentary administrative services, who in this case obeyed the ruling of the Central Electoral Commission, without this being knowledge of the elected Bureau, the procedural committee of which the speaker is chairperson. "This is not admissible," she warned, also criticizing the administrative employees for posting a tweet on Parliament's official account informing that Juvillà's removal from Parliament had been published in the gazette, before the Bureau had been notified of this. However, after the response from the political groups, who reprimanded her for blaming the public servants, she affirmed that there was "no attempt to blame them" in her words, but rather, that if they acted in this way it was for fear of the only culprit: Spanish state's repression. In this regard, she asserted that the stripping of the parliamentary seat from the MP is a very serious action, "the result of the authoritarian drift of the state", a drift that, she warned, is very dangerous and is reflected "in a very brutal way" in the repression undertaken against Catalan independence, and once again she differentiated how the then speaker, Roger Torrent, acted with the seat of the president of Catalan, Quim Torra: "For all the differences there are with the case of president Quim Torra, the seat of Juvillà was withdrawn through the JEC, bypassing the regulations of Parliament and the will expressed by the Bureau and the Plenary".


Another element that was raised continuously after her explanation was the question of whether or not Juvillà was still a deputy on February 3rd, when the full session of Parliament voted in favour of the opinion which preserved his seat. The CUP deputy was not summoned to that session and the speaker's minutes state that the delegation of his vote had not been admitted. Borràs stated that she did not give an order for him not to be summoned and that she admitted his delegation of vote to the procedure, but that she did not authorize it, alleging a conflict of interest: "It is clear that there is a double reality, a parallel reality between the Spanish legality that since December 14th considers that Juvillà is no longer a deputy (...) Alongside this Spanish legality is the legitimacy of Parliament, which considered that Juvillà was a deputy until the secretary general of Parliament presented to us that by legal imperative he would inform the JEC of the actions taken to show that the seat had been withdrawn," she added, explaining that she had instructed the secretary general to make a complaint for abuse of authority against the JEC.

The CUP and ERC: muted criticism

Borràs's explanations were not enough to convince the opposition, which continues to assert that there are aspects that do not add up. Most of the parties called for her resignation, while ERC and the CUP were less harsh. ERC's Meritxell Serret thanked her for her explanations and emphasized that if confidence within the independence bloc had been broken these days, it was due to a "lack of transparency". From the CUP, deputy Eulàlia Reguant criticized the lack of coherence between the explanation and the facts, and reiterated that Juvillà was not summoned, something that her party insists was an indication that he was not a deputy: "Something does not add up", she reiterated. Beyond these two groups, Josep Rius, MP for Junts, Borràs's party, focused on the need to strengthen pro-independence unity, and defended that the speaker, in the face of a new aggression, had tried to respond in the best possible way.

Apologies and resignations

The other parties were much tougher. From the PSC, the MP Raúl Moreno accused the president of having committed a "political contortionism" that did not achieve anything but degraded the institution, and he demanded that Borràs apologize to the public servants of Parliament. David Cid of the Comuns also called for her to go, considering that the episode was "the umpteenth battle" within the pro-independence parties, accusing Borràs of wanting to differentiate herself from what previous speaker Roger Torrent had done.

As for the three Spanish right-wing parties, they all called for Borràs's head. Vox deputy Antonio Gallego reprimanded her for an authoritarian drift while demanding that she stop turning Parliament into a "circus". Nacho Martín Blanco (Cs) accused Borràs of institutionalizing the lie and pulling the legs of all Catalans and especially the voters. Finally, Lorena Roldán of the PP accused her of avoiding the issue by blaming the officials: "It's embarrassing".