President-elect comes under fire over Berlin trip
CatECP party critical of Torra’s meeting with Puigdemont in Germany, while socialists keen to know how the visit was funded
Catalan president-elect, Quim Torra, came under fire on Tuesday for “prioritizing” his trip to Germany to meet with deposed president Carles Puigdemont. A spokesperson for the Catalunya en Comú Podem (CatECP) party, which aligns with neither the pro-independence or unionist camps, said Torra should instead “listen and meet with the social movements” that have frequently taken to the streets in protest over the past few months.
Regretting Torra’s visit to Germany, the spokeswoman said: “Doing that is not living up to the demands of the public heard on the streets in these past six months without a Catalan government.” The spokeswoman went on to say that CatECP found it “contradictory” that Torra should talk about the importance of “listening to the people” in his investiture speech only to then “prioritize” visiting the deposed president in Berlin.
Torra’s German trip was also of interest to the Catalan socialist party (PSC), which on Tuesday registered a series of parliamentary questions about the president-elect’s visit to Berlin. The socialists wish to know more about how the trip was funded and whether it was an official visit or not. The party also wants to know who accompanied Torra to Berlin and whether their expenses were paid for by public money.
Yet, PSC leader, Miquel Iceta, on Tuesday advised the Spanish government and the political parties opposed to independence to consider the offer of “dialogue without conditions” that Torra made during his investiture speech. "I wouldn’t like to see the new Catalan president asking for dialogue only to get a ‘no’ in response,” said Iceta, who nonetheless regretted that Torra’s political project is one “that over half of Catalans have said they do not want.”
On Tuesday morning, the head of Spain’s PSOE socialist party, Pedro Sánchez, warned Torra that any attempts by his government to unilaterally split with Spain would see direct rule re-imposed on Catalonia. The head of the opposition was speaking at a news conference following a meeting to discuss the Catalan situation with Spanish president, Mariano Rajoy. Referring to Torra’s stated plans to make the Catalan Republic a reality, Sánchez warned that “he knows where that path leads.”
As for the head of Spain’s unionist Ciudadanos (Cs) party, Albert Rivera, he called for direct rule of Catalonia to continue, despite the Catalan parliament picking a new head of government. “With a racist president who wants to install the Republic, reinstate a suspect of rebellion and fugitives from justice to their ministries, there is no other choice than to apply the Constitution,” said Rivera, in reference to Article 155 of the Constitution, the legal mechanism used by the Spanish government to impose direct rule.