Iñaki Pardo Torregrosa, Barcelona 28 July 2022
Laura Borràs and Quim Torra today at the gates of the Catalan Parliament
Esquerra, PSC and CUP apply article 25.4 of the rules of procedure, which affects corruption cases, and the republican Alba Vergès, who is first vice-president, assumes all functions in the Bureau.
It is the chronicle of a suspension foretold. Laura Borràs has been suspended this Thursday as deputy and president of the Parliament of Catalonia at the meeting of the Bureau, which has been convened specifically to address this issue today at noon. The Republican Alba Vergès, first vice-president, will now take over the functions of the presidency.
The leader of Junts per Catalunya does not lose her status as a member of parliament, but until her legal case is resolved, in which she will sit in the dock for the alleged crimes of prevarication and false documentation, she will not be able to participate in the meetings of the parliamentary bodies or act as president of the institution. Nor will she be able to get paid.
This Thursday, once suspended, Borràs appeared in the Chamber’s hearing office, the one she uses for institutional appearances, after the rest of the groups endorsed it.
In her speech, the suspended MP pointed to the five members of the Bureau “with names and surnames” who voted in favour of the suspension, and said that they were “in sync” with the judges, as they had notified her today of the order to open an oral trial. “Today they have not come dressed as MPs, they have come dressed as hypocritical judges to remove me from politics,” she said. “They have applied the rules of the enemy,” she added.
The president of JxCat also warned that she will not resign and accused the other parties of leading the Parliament into a situation of instability and legal insecurity. “In addition to defending my innocence and my honour, I am forcing an interim situation”, she said. Right after, he said that he would not make it “any easier for the repressors and their accomplices”.
“I am not giving up, I am not bending, they have not won. I continue to affirm that there is no more beautiful and noble goal than the full freedom of my country. My rights and the rights of each and every one of the people who voted for me are being violated,” said the JxCat leader, who described article 25.4 as an “infamous article that violates fundamental rights and generates legal insecurity”. Furthermore, in relation to the other parties represented on the Bureau, she pointed out that they are “accomplices in the execution” of the “dirty war”. “In a totally gratuitous and unnecessary way”.
Esquerra Republicana, PSC and the CUP voted in favour of applying article 25.4 of the rules of procedure, which decrees the suspension of the duties and rights of parliamentarians when they are brought to trial for a crime linked to corruption, such as, in this case, prevarication. All the groups in the House, except Junts per Catalunya, had asked the leader to take a step back in recent weeks, and even some sectors of her party were in favour of this option. But Borràs has refused at all times while declaring her innocence.
The president of JxCat left the meeting of the institution’s governing body shortly after it began in order not to take part in the deliberations, as she is an affected party and there was a conflict of interest. Therefore, the decision was taken without her being present.
The Chamber enters an unprecedented scenario
With the application of this article of the regulations, the Parliament has today entered an unprecedented scenario. The fact is that if Borràs does not resign from the presidency, which she can do later, a new president of the institution cannot be appointed.
For this reason, ERC has asked its partner in recent days to decide how it wants the replacement to take over, in order to respect its power-sharing agreements in the Catalan administration. Beyond the fact that Borràs will be suspended, there are several issues to be resolved, such as what happens to the staff assigned to the presidency and the resources associated with this institutional figure, the second highest-ranking in the Generalitat de Catalunya.
The Republicans have assured that at no time has the possibility of Junts leaving the Government been raised in the coordination meetings, and have reiterated today their offer to JxCat to send them a proposal on how to organise the Parliament.
Just before the meeting of the Bureau, Borràs greeted the more than 200 demonstrators who gathered at the gates of the Catalan Parliament, in the Parc de la Ciutadella in Barcelona, to give her support. The demonstration had been called by the so-called Laura Borràs support group, which floods the social networks with messages in support of the president of Junts when she is in delicate situations. JxCat seconded the call.
The pro-independence leader has also met with the parliamentary group of Junts as well as with several members of the executive and ministers of the Government of her party who have come to the Parliament. It was immediately afterwards when, accompanied by her closest core group, she went out into the park to greet the demonstrators, who had been whistling at pro-independence leaders of other parties and applauding those of JxCat.
Among those who supported Borràs on a day like today was the former president of the Generalitat, Quim Torra, who in an appearance inside the Chamber later suggested that Junts should leave the government of Pere Aragonès if Borràs is suspended, although he did not want to be explicit.