Quim Torra elected first Catalan president since failed independence

Catalonia’s Parliament elected a new president Monday, ending months of political deadlock in the region since Madrid took over direct rule.

Catalonia's Parliament elected a new president Monday, ending months of political deadlock in the region since Madrid took over direct rule. Photo by Andreu Dalmau/EPA-EFE
Catalonia’s Parliament elected a new president Monday, ending months of political deadlock in the region since Madrid took over direct rule. Photo by Andreu Dalmau/EPA-EFE

Pro-independence lawmaker Quim Torra was narrowly elected by a vote of 66-65 — becoming the first candidate to be approved by the body since former Premier Carles Puigdemont’s administration was sacked seven months ago.

Although Torra underscored plans to push ahead with a secessionist agenda, main opposition leader InĂ©s Arrimadas said she felt Torra’s election reaffirmed “the actions of the government.”

Arrimadas said Torra wants to “replace the parliament with an Assembly of Elected Officials made up exclusively of separatists.”

Socialist party spokeswoman Eva Granados described Torra as “a supremacist ultranationalist.”

Torra, considered by many a hard line separatist, said in the past he favored “constructing a country with the maximum radicalism possible.”

The new president said during his investiture speech Monday the true leader of Catalonia is Puigdemont, who fled the country shortly after the semi-autonomous region unilaterally declared independence from Spain last October.

Puigdemont has been in self-imposed exile for months, moving from Belgium to Germany. He awaits a German court’s decision on Spain’s extradition request on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is expected to meet with the opposition party Tuesday.

Rajoy hinted he could implement Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution once again and seize power from Catalonia if Torra tries to spark another independence movement.

“[Article] 155 isn’t an article of the constitution any more: it’s a precedent and a procedure that will be available in future if it becomes necessary,” Rajoy said last week.

“I hope it will not become necessary again.”

By Sara Shayanian