Catalan leader withdraws support for Spanish government’s budget plans

Catalan President, Quim Torra delivers a speech during a plenary session at the Catalan Parliament, in Barcelona, Spain, Nov. 7, 2018. EFE-EPA/ALBERTO ESTEVEZ

Barcelona (Spain), Nov 7 (efe-epa).- The regional president of Catalonia on Wednesday made official the withdrawal of his party’s support for the fragile minority government in Madrid, including the latter’s budget proposal for next year, and said his cabinet would intensify its diplomatic efforts to obtain outside mediation in the territorial conflict pitting the northeastern Spanish region against the central executive.

Quim Torra told lawmakers in the Catalan regional parliament that the arguments put forth by the state prosecution against separatist leaders in their ongoing trial for alleged rebellion and sedition – after they promoted an independence referendum on Oct. 1, 2017, that was deemed unconstitutional by the judiciary – made it impossible to back the Socialist government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

“It’s evident that, apart from a few whispered words, the Spanish government has decided it won’t stand on the side of democracy and justice, but rather endorse the court proceedings to chastise and avenge a defeat at the ballot,” Torra said.

“That’s why we withdraw any kind of support to the government. We will not vote in favor of Prime Minister Sanchez’s budget,” he added.

The Catalan leader reminded the chamber of the one-month deadline he gave Madrid to put forth a proposal for a binding and internationally-recognized referendum on the region’s independence from the rest of the country.

“It’s November and Sanchez hasn’t offered any democratic solutions to the political conflict nor has he made any decision against the ongoing political repression,” Torra said.

“How can they think we will pass any budget while the repression and the lack of will to resolve the political conflict through democratic means persist?” he asked, adding that his party, the Catalan European Democratic Party (PDeCAT) and its pro-independence allies, the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), would never sit down to negotiate the budget as long as the “violation of rights” continued.

Torra also said the regional government was set to intensify its foreign action in the European Union and the United States to denounce what he described as the criminalization of the right to self-determination.

He explained that Catalonia would seek outside mediation by third parties recognized by both sides of the dispute.

“Today’s Spanish injustice will be the European justice’s verdict overturning it tomorrow,” he said.

“I’m not here today to defend anybody or any cause. Our comrades are innocent and our cause is just. I am here today to accuse the State. This grave attack cannot go by without the groups in this chamber speaking out. Who can keep silent in the face of such a huge aberration?” he added.

The Catalan president said that pro-independence parties would never accept any verdict other than the accused’s exoneration and the return of those he described as exiles, as well as any proposal other than the recognition of Catalonia’s right to self-determination.

“We will never give up,” Torra concluded.