Seperatist candidate Quim Torra becomes President of Cataluña ending months of deadlock

SLIM MARGIN: Quim Torra (centre) won by one vote SLIM MARGIN: Quim Torra (centre) won by one vote Parliament of Cataluña, via Twitter

QUIM TORRA, the politician endorsed for the role of the President of Cataluña, has assumed the office after winning a ballot in the region’s Parliament by one vote.

Torra, the separatist Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) party’s favoured candidate, won with a total of 66 votes from that party and from the pro-independence Republican Left of Cataluña (ERC). The far left Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) party abstained.

One of his first acts as President is set to take place today when Torra travels to Germany for a joint press conference with predessor Carles Puigdemont in Berlin this afternoon. 

The new president said at a session of the legislature held to invest him that his government would work in the interests of all Catalans.

“We do not want a uniform Cataluña, but one united in diversity. It should be a republic of all rights, where all enjoy the fullness of rights,” he said.

He added his government would look at raising the minimum wage to €1,100 per month, as well as opening school classrooms to both Spanish and Catalan.

Torra also said he wanted to return Cataluña back to the position it was in before the Spanish government imposed direct rule on the region following last year’s independence push.

Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s Prime Minister and leader of the conservative Partido Popular, said he hoped for “understanding and concord” with the new President. He added in reference to jailed and wanted Catalan politicians that he must comply with the law.

Torra also referred to anti-Spanish remarks he had made previously on Twitter and elsewhere in his address. “I regret it, it will not happen again,” he said.

The European Socialist Party said the comments were “racist” and called Torra’s suitability for the post into question.

Roger Torrent, the Catalan Parliament’s President, has reportedly informed King Felipe VI officially of the decision to invest Torra.

The legislature will also have to publish the result in the region’s Official Gazette to formalise the appointment.

The new president’s victory comes 199 days after the dismissal of previous office holder Carles Puigdemont, also of JxCat, in connection with last year’s push for secession from Spain.

Earlier attempts at installing separatist politicians Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Turull to the office failed when both of them were remanded in custody for their alleged part in independence efforts.

Former president Puigdemont congratulated Torra on his appointment and said: “All my affection and support, with immense gratitude.”

The politician is currently awaiting a decision from a Germany court on whether to allow his extradition to Spain on embezzlement charges. The accusations are in connection with the Cataluña independence referendum in October.

There was a recent attempt to install Puigdemont back to the office remotely but this was blocked by the Spanish government.

Joe Gerrard

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