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Catalonia: the pro-independence presidential candidate promises to “give up nothing”

Ⓒ AFP – Josep LAGO – | Joaquim Torra, candidate for the post of President of
Catalonia, arrives at the Catalan Parliament on May 11, 2018 in
Barcelona

The Catalan deputies debated on Saturday the inauguration of
the regional presidency of Quim Torra, candidate chosen by
Carles Puigdemont to succeed him and who promised to “work
tirelessly” for the independence of Catalonia, eliciting a
scathing response from Madrid.

Prevented by justice to lead Catalonia again, Mr. Puigdemont
resigned himself to passing the witness, without renouncing his
political influence or the challenge to the Spanish government
with the declaration of independence remained a dead letter of
27 October.

Hence the choice of Quim Torra, 55 years old, a novice in
politics, who did not pledge allegiance to a party but decided
like him to continue the tussle with Madrid.

“I want it to be clear that our president is Carles
Puigdemont, we will be loyal to the mandate of October 1 to
build an independent state,” said mid-day Quim Torra at the
opening of the inaugural debate at Catalan Parliament. On 1
October, some two million Catalans (out of a total of 5.5
million voters) voted for independence in a referendum on
self-determination banned by Madrid.

Carles Puigdemont will try to be invested as soon as his
legal situation will allow him, he warned.

The ex-president, who was exiled after his dismissal, is
being prosecuted for rebellion. He is on bail in Germany, where
a court has to rule on a request for extradition from
Spain.

Promising to restore some Catalan laws suspended by the
justice and to launch the drafting of the Constitution of the
future Catalan republic, Mr. Torra, very offensive, said not to
“give up” anything of the efforts towards the independence,
promising “d ‘ to take responsibility for our actions “.

Mr Torra expressed his intention to
“internationalize the Catalan problem”, calling the European
Commission in English, regretting “the unacceptable silence” of
the European Union on the Catalan crisis.

However, he said he was “ready to talk tomorrow, without
conditions” with the government of Mariano Rajoy.

He reacted strongly to the inaugural speech: “What we have
seen and heard did not please us (…) But we will judge his
actions,” he said.

He has already warned that Article 155 of the Constitution,
used to put Catalonia under tutelage, “could be used again if
necessary” if the next Catalan executive did not respect the
law.

In a virulent statement, the government described as
“sectarian and divisive” the speech of Mr. Torra, while
accusing Carles Puigdemont, in appointing such a successor, “to
prioritize the personal interest of an individual on the
general interest of all citizens “.

– ‘Oil on fire’ –

“Independence has lost today a great opportunity, (that of
having) a candidate who recognizes his mistakes,” said Inès
Arrimadas, the leader of the center-right Ciudadanos party, who
won the most votes in recent years. regional elections,
accusing Torra of throwing “oil on fire”.

“You have completely accepted the subordination to whoever
thinks he is the legitimate president,” criticized Catalan
Socialist Party leader Miquel Iceta.

After the debates, the parliament will proceed in the
evening to a first vote, which Torra is unlikely to win because
it would require an absolute majority.

On Monday, the second round with a simple majority could
lead to the election of independence by a narrow majority.

Quim Torra can count on 66 votes for – 65 will vote against
– but must ensure the abstention of the four deputies of the
extreme left-wing independence party Candidature of popular
unity (CUP), who wanted to vote only for Carles Puigdemont.

His speech could serve to convince this small radical party,
which must stop its position Sunday. But the CUP could also be
tempted to block the nomination and cause new elections as a
poll released this week promises 11 seats of deputies against 4
currently in case of return to the polls.

If Torra succeeds in being invested, Catalonia will regain
its autonomy after months of political blockage.

Madrid placed the region under trusteeship at the end of
October, after having dismissed Mr. Puigdemont and his
government from the unilateral declaration of independence and
convened new elections, won by the separatists.

After having insisted on getting elected from abroad or
presented candidates pursued like him by justice, Carles
Puigdemont agreed to give way to avoid a new return to the
polls, ten days from the expiry of the deadline to form a
Government, 22 May.

Mariano Rajoy warned that Article 155 of the Constitution,
used to put Catalonia under tutelage “could be used again if
necessary” if the next Catalan executive did not respect the
law.

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