A Glimmer in Catalonia By Nathan Richmond
Puigdemont Nominates Torra
On May 10, 2018, Carles Puigdemont, the former Catalonia regional president, nominated Quim Torra to be Catalonia's next president. Puigdemont did so by video from Berlin where he is in exile, detained by German authorities, and currently fighting extradition to Spain. Puigdemont was traveling from Finland back to his home-in-exile in Brussels when he was detained by the German police on a request by Spanish authorities.
Puigdemont, Sanchez, Turull, Torra
The Catalonian regional parliament nominated Puigdemont in January 2018 for reelection to the Catalan presidency. Then in exile in Brussels, Mr Puidgdemont was disqualified by refusing to return to Spain for his investiture. He is currently wanted in Spain on charges of rebellion and sedition in connection with the independence referendum and subsequent declaration of independence by the Catalan Parliament last fall. In all, 25 people are under arrest in Spain or in exile in Scotland, in Belguim, or in Switzerland, all charged by the Spanish authorities with sedition and rebellion. The charges carry up to a 30 year prison term if convicted.
In early March 2018 the Catalan Parliament, at the request of Mr Puigdemont, nominated Jordi Sanchez to be president related article here. But he too was disqualified because he is currently jailed and awaiting trial on the same charges facing Puigdemont. Then near the end of March, Jordi Turull was nominated, briefly, but was arrested and jailed on the same charges of sedition and rebellion less than 24 hours before the Catalan Parliament began debate on his candidacy. Ultimately, his candidacy was defeated by a vote of 65-64.
On May 14, 2018 Mr Torra was elected President of Catalonia by a vote of 66-65. Mr. Torra, age 55, is a lawyer by training and is a member of the Catalan Parliament from Mr Puigdemont's "Together for Catalonia" pro-independence party. A new-comer to electoral politics, Mr Torra worked as an insurance company executive and as a publisher and has a long history of activism supporting Catalonia's independence. Upon his election he vowed to "implement the mandate from the October [independence] referendum." Mr Torra has been accused by opposition politicians of being "Puigdemont's puppet".
Torra's election occurred a week before a May 22, 2018 deadline that would have forced new elections in Catalonia if a government there could not be installed. It remains unclear how Madrid will respond, but with Mr Torra's pledge to pursue Calalan independence, it is unlikely that the Spanish government in Madrid will embrace him and work with his government.
Nathan Richmond is Professor of Government at Utica College