Spanish king Felipe VI is to receive a major snubbing by key representatives of the Catalan and Barcelona institutions on Sunday. A special royal reception planned for Barcelona's Palau de la Música, prior to the opening of the huge Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, will be boycotted by the speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Roger Torrent, the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, and a considerable list of Catalan and Barcelona officials, in protest at the Spanish king's partisan role in political events following Catalonia's independence referendum last October, which culminated in the intervention in Catalonia's self-government institutions.
However, Torrent, Colau and others will attend the subsequent inaugural dinner for the Mobile congress and its official opening on Monday, and emphasise that their action is directed at the monarch and not at the massive trade fair event which is the principal reason for Felipe VI's trip to Catalonia.
Catalan Parliament speaker, Roger Torrent, is the latest to define his position on Sunday's event. "He will not take part in the monarchy's protocol event", indicated sources close to Torrent. But the speaker of the chamber said that he will attend the dinner later on Sunday evening, in order to maintain his commitment to the Mobile World Congress, "a key event for the dynamization of the economic and social fabric of the country". Torrent's response has been discussed with Ada Colau, with the two agreeing that this response was the most appropriate in the current situation, and a way to jointly express the institutions' commitment to the MWC event, the world's largest trade fair for the mobile industry.
Earlier, Ada Colau justified her own decision to skip the welcome for the king. Referring to the monarch's positioning after Catalonia's independence referendum on 1st October, she said: "He should have maintained a neutral position, and should have appealed for social concord and dialogue, but instead he took the side of the harshest, most repressive thesis". The mayor also considered that the monarch should not have come out in favour of the application of direct rule over Catalonia, and of the strong police repression in Barcelona on the day of the referendum.
As a Catalan government has not yet been formed, and Spanish intervention in Catalonia is continuing, Torrent and Colau are effectively senior representatives of the Catalan government institutions, so their absence takes on special significance. Moreover, they have been joined in the boycott stance by senior civil servants, such as the Commerce secretary general Pau Villòria, secretary of Competitiveness, Joan Aregio, and secretary of IT and Communication, Jordi Puigneró. The leader of ERC (Catalan Republican Left) in the Barcelona City Council, Alfred Bosch, has also said that he does not wish to share space with the king.
Roger Torrent does plan to visit the Mobile congress during the week. He "is absolutely conscious of his institutional role, which he always exercises, with all its consequences", explained the sources close to him. Complaints that had led him to take this position include the fact that the king, Spain's head of state, has not dedicated even a single word to the more than 1,000 people injured on 1st October due to the actions of the Civil Guard and Spanish National Police, and that in his televised speech on 3rd October he defended the action of the Spanish government and did not make any sort of gesture towards politics as a way of solving political conflicts.