The speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Roger Torrent, has told radio station RAC1 that elections will be held in Catalonia on Sunday 14th February. "If there is no investiture debate in Parliament, we will go to elections. In fact, the countdown will end on February 10th and therefore we will go to the polls on Sunday, February 14th," he said.
Torrent explained that, according to the rules, the day for the elections to the Catalan Parliament would be Wednesday, February 10th, a working day. The last time Catalans voted, on December 21st 2017, was also a working day - a Thursday - but historically, Catalan elections have usually taken place on Sundays.
“It makes all the sense in the world,” he explained, to move the vote to the Sunday, as an election day on a working day is inadvisable, even more so in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic. In this regard, he stressed that he relied on the consensus of all political forces to move the date to the Sunday. The two partners in the current Catalan government, JxCat and ERC, were already working on that date, he said.
The countdown to elections was set in motion with the disqualification from office of president Quim Torra, which became effective on Tuesday 29th when the Catalan government passed a decree for his substitution. As speaker of Parliament, Torrent now has a period of 10 working days to carry out contacts with the parliamentary groups and determine if there is any candidature for the presidency of Catalonia with probability of sufficient votes to be successful. This must be done before 15th October, and Torrent said this morning that he would begin these contacts today.
During this period, Torrent will assess whether there is any candidate who "has real expectations of being able to be invested as president", either on the first or second ballot - in the latter case, a candidate only needs to have more votes in favour than against.
In the event that there is no candidate with sufficient support, the speaker has to certify the situation in order for the next phase in the countdown to begin, lasting two months, a period in which, in any case, there could be an investiture debate. But in the event that the two months end without investiture of a new president, elections are automatically called for 54 further days' later.
This takes the calendar to February 10th, but the president of the chamber has explained that he will use the "small margin he has" to decide when to hold "the equivalent act" to a failed investiture, to move the automatic election date four days later to Sunday, February 14th. Contrary to what the opposition Ciudadanos party argues, Torrent maintains that he cannot call an investiture debate if there is no candidate with a possibility of obtaining sufficient votes.