Quim Torra, a convinced independence activist, elected president of Catalonia

The Catalan parliament on Monday elected the separatist candidate chosen by the exiled Carles Puigdemont, Quim Torra, who promised to continue to “build an independent state” of Spain.
“We will make the Catalan Republic,” said the 55-year-old publisher, just elected by 66 votes in favor and 65 against, with the four abstentions of the far-left separatist party Popular Unity Candidate (CUP).

“We will be faithful to the mandate of self-determination referendum of 1 st October to build an independent state, a republic,” he promised.

On 1 st October, more than two million Catalans (out of 5.5 million voters) participated in the referendum banned by Madrid and the police tried to prevent. According to the organizers, 90% voted for independence.

Quim Torra is to form its government in the coming days, which will automatically lift the tutelage imposed by Madrid on this region of 7.5 million inhabitants when separatist deputies proclaimed independence on October 27, 2017.

Torra announced at the first inaugural debate on Saturday that he would only occupy the post until Carles Puigdemont, “the legitimate president,” returned to power.

He will travel to Berlin on Tuesday to meet his predecessor, which Catalan public television has shown following live the speech of his protégé.

The deposed president left Spain in late October before being charged with rebellion, a charge of 30 years in prison. He is waiting for the German court to rule on a request for extradition from Spain.

Charges of xenophobia

Quim Torra is committed to restoring Catalan laws suspended or annulled by justice, to reopen the “embassies” of Catalonia closed by the State and to start the drafting of the Constitution of the future Catalan republic.

He mentioned the creation of parallel structures of government abroad to prepare for secession: a “Council of the Republic” chaired by Carles Puigdemont, and an assembly composed of local elected representatives.

The leader of the opposition to the separatists Inés Arrimadas harshly attacked the “xenophobic and identity discourses” of the candidate, described as “puppet of Puigdemont”.

She denounced the anti-Spanish writings of Mr. Torra, who notably described as “scavengers, vipers and hyenas” those who do not defend as he does the culture and the Catalan language.

The conservative government of Mariano Rajoy reminded that he could at any time regain control of the region if Mr. Torra violated the Constitution.

Provisional President

Puigdemont said Saturday in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa that his appointed successor “takes power under temporary conditions and he is aware of it. From October 27, he will be able to call new elections “.

The first trial of the 25 independentist leaders prosecuted for rebellion and other crimes could open in October, a good time to mobilize Catalan separatists against “repression” in an election campaign, say Spanish commentators.

Nine of these leaders are in custody and seven others, including Carles Puigdemont, have fled abroad.

Most belonged to the two major separatist formations – the conservative PDECAT and the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) – who have been advocating since a more moderate policy.

But with his success in the December elections, where his list Together for Catalonia garnered the most votes of independence, Mr. Puigdemont forced their hand and imposed his candidate, charging him to continue the confrontation with Madrid.

A government “that only responds to Puigdemont” can create tensions in the coalition, commented Oriol Bartomeus, professor of Political Science at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. “There can be problems, there can be fights”.

In addition, the CUP warned that it would lead an active opposition, because the program of government does not contain “republican and social measures that respond to the rights and needs of the working class”.

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