"I trust that Parliament will reverse this wrongdoing immediately. Otherwise, they will be jeopardizing the continuity of the institutions." This was the warning given by Catalonia's president, Quim Torra, to the house, after the speaker, Roger Torrent, announced at the beginning of this Monday afternoon's session that he would not be able to vote. The speaker took this action after the Catalan Parliament's general secretary had this morning ordered, based on the resolutions of Spain's Central Electoral Commission and Supreme Court, the cancellation of Torra's status as a member of parliament. Subsequently, the Bureau of Parliament voted by a majority to agree to this, with the two Catalan government partners, JxCat and ERC, voting in opposing directions.
In the face of this, Quim Torra, speaking in the plenary session as president, rather than as an MP, said that his removal as a parliamentary deputy "puts the budget in doubt" as well as "the continuity of the institutions", and challenged Torrent to overturn it.
In the same speech, he argued that "the popular will comes before everything else" and asserted that this should be respected "at all costs." "It is impossible to achieve independence if we don't respect the popular will," he said. In addition, Torra, speaking very assertively, presented himself as both "MP" and "president", affirming that "we've had enough of not listening to the word of the citizens".
Public split between JxCat and ERC
The president also complained at the beginning of the plenary session that speaker Torrent had not personally informed him of the decision taken - something the speaker denies - and thus made even more evident the split between the two partners in the Catalan government: Torra's party Together for Catalonia (JxCat), and Torrent's, the Republican Left (ERC). In fact, at the end of Torra's speech, he only received applause from his own party. ERC members neither stood up nor clapped.
The applause for Quim Torra
Prior to the President's address, Torrent had announced that Parliament would not be able to count his vote because it had been "abducted" by the Supreme Court and the Electoral Commission, a fact which, for the speaker, was "unjustifiable". He declared that they would work to "reverse" it. The ERC party believes, said Roger Torrent, that maintaining the president's vote would jeopardize the validity of all agreements reached by the house. "Parliament cannot give up being an effective tool for the people," he argued.
Controversial decision of Parliament's senior lawyer
The controversy had begun first thing on Monday morning when the Parliament's general secretary, Xavier Muró, in his role as legal advisor to the Parliament's procedural committee the Bureau, ordered the removal of president Quim Torra's status as an MP, in compliance with the ruling of the Spanish electoral authority. This was followed a few hours later, by the acceptance by the Bureau that Torra was no longer a member of parliament, with the votes in favour of ERC and the opposition parties on the Bureau, PSC and Cs. JxCat was left on its own in demanding that the order to strip president Quim Torra of his seat should not be executed.