The Spanish parliament’s speaker said on Wednesday the suspension of four Catalan lawmakers currently facing trial over their involvement in a 2017 regional independence bid would not affect the total number of seats in the house. A parliamentary majority in the 350-seat house would continue to be 176 seats, Meritxell Batet said. Spain’s acting prime minister Pedro Sanchez won a national election on April 28 but his Socialist party did not take enough seats to rule on its own, forcing him to rely on other parties to stay in power. Parliament is expected to hold a first vote on his nomination in July. The removal of the four seats would have allowed Sanchez to broker a majority position in parliament without relying on the Catalan separatists’ votes or abstention, which he is now likely to require.
Quim Torra, the Catalan regional head and Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) member, last week threatened to withdraw parliamentary support for Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in the national parliament, but coalition ally Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC, Republican Left of Catalonia) did not back the move.
In July, Spain’s Supreme Court effectively stripped Carles Puigdemont and the other separatist politicians of their public duties due to their role in organising an independence referendum on Oct 1, 2017. Opinion polls in Catalonia show a relatively even split between those who favour remaining in Spain and those wanting to secede.
Catalan leader Quim Torra will relaunch on Tuesday his region’s campaign to split from Spain, rebuffing an offer from the central government in Madrid for a referendum on greater autonomy that would fall well short of independence. Catalan leader Quim Torra said, “I will take it to the end. I will take it as far as the Catalan parliament wants me to go.”