The official publication this Tuesday of the decree of call for elections in Catalonia puts an end to three years of eventful legislature, marked by the clashes between the independence movement and Justice and the tensions between JxCat and ERC, effects derived from the unilateral referendum of October 1, 2017.
These have been the most relevant moments of Quim Torra’s mandate, which started with the autonomy intervened with article 155 of the Constitution and which ends abruptly after the disqualification of the president, with the country on alert for COVID-19:
Without telematic investiture
Torra occupied, as an independent, number 11 of the JxCat candidacy for Barcelona in the Catalan elections of December 21, 2017, in full application of 155.
Lawyer, editor, author of a dozen books on the history of Catalonia and journalism, Torra was one of the signings without a party card that Carles Puigdemont attracted to his list, although he did not appear in the pools as an alternative in case plan A failed.
JxCat’s plan A consisted of telematically investing Puigdemont, fled to Belgium, But the warnings of the Constitutional Court made the president of the Parliament, Roger Torrent, back down and call off the plenary session.
Plan B was activated, investing Jordi Sanchez, already in prison, and it was not possible either; plan C supposed to convert to Jordi Turull in president just before he entered provisional prison, but the CUP refused to cast their votes for the operation, dragging JxCat into a dilemma: either seek a plan D, this time to invest an effective candidate, or force elections in protest.
Torra, defender of Puigdemont as “legitimate president”, was in favor of the second option, but he ended up being the one chosen by the former president to step up and unblock the legislature: on May 17, 2018 he took office promising the position “with fidelity to the people of Catalonia”, without mentioning the Constitution.
In accordance with its legitimacy, Torra’s first decision was to try to restore the holders of the portfolios who were dismissed with 155 as consellers of his Government, ignoring the warnings of the Government of Mariano Rajoy, which blocked the appointments.
Finally, Torra withdrew from this symbolic “restitution” and appointed his new councilors, after 218 days of application of 155.
The sentence of the process
The legislature started in 2018 still under the effects of 155, was marked by the arrest and subsequent release of Puigdemont in Germany and was conditioned by the trial of the pro-independence leaders in the Supreme Court.
The prison sentences for Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull, Joaquim Forn, Raül Romeva, Carme Forcadell, Dolors Bassa, Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, announced by the Supreme Court on October 14, 2019, unleashed protests throughout Catalonia.
If something has characterized this mandate, in addition to the trial of the procés, it has been the constant clashes between the two coalition partners, JxCat and ERC, with episodes such as the failed inauguration of Puigdemont or the withdrawal of Torra’s seat after his conviction for disobedience.
The Republicans, who have reoriented their strategy towards a pragmatic independence movement Further away from the unilateral route, they have been the target of criticism from JxCat, for example for facilitating the inauguration of Pedro Sánchez, for the dialogue table on Catalonia or for the pact of the General State Budgets for 2021.
The confrontation between the partners reached such an untenable point that, on January 29, Torra declared the unity of his Govern broken and announced that he would call elections as soon as the Catalan budgets were approved, a call that did not materialize due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
COVID breaks out
Torra’s plans were altered the second week of March, when the Government became aware of what was coming with COVID-19, of which Torra himself tested positive, who had to remain locked up for weeks in the Palau de la Generalitat.
The health crisis fiercely hit Catalonia and severely affected nursing homes due to the impotence of the Government, which derived responsibilities towards the Executive of Pedro Sánchez for “recentralize” powers with the state of alarm.
On April 24, in a semi-empty hemicycle and with the telematic vote activated for a large part of the deputies, the Parliament approved the first budgets of the Generalitat since 2017.
On the eve of the general elections in April 2019, Torra ignored the ultimatum of the Central Electoral Board to remove from the balcony of the Palau de la Generalitat a banner supporting “political prisoners and exiles”, gesture by which months later he was sentenced to a year and a half of disqualification, for disobedience, by the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia.
The Supreme Court confirmed that sentence at the end of September 2020Therefore, Torra became the first disqualified president in full exercise of his position and, in the last three months, the vice president of the Government, Pere Aragonès, has assumed most of his functions as substitute president.
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