Borràs accuses ERC and CUP of "not wanting" to disobey collectively in the Juvillà case

Speaker admits she asked president to involve the Government with the ruling on the use of Spanish in schools

4 min
Laura Borràs during this Thursday's plenary session

Barcelona"It's not that we couldn't, it's that we didn't want to". Speaker Laura Borràs has not answered many questions nor given many details, but in an interview on RAC1 she has pointed out culprits for CUP MP Pau Juvillà having been stripped of his seat. Basically, they are, on the one hand, ERC and CUP, who did not accept, she says, the collective disobedience that she proposed and, on the other hand, the chamber's officials, who acted without informing her. Despite being Speaker, Borràs does not assume responsibility for what happened last week because she assures that she was willing to fight "until the end".

It was she who denied Juvillà's vote last Thursday, effectively stripping him of his seat, but she has shifted the focus to a few days before, when she made "an ambitious proposal of collective resistance" that included Parliament and the Government. She spoke about this proposal with ERC and the CUP, and also told Catalan president Pere Aragonès on Saturday, January 29 in Manresa. Although she did not give many details, Borràs said that the "collective resistance" also meant that Government would not comply with the ruling establishing a quarter of classes had to be in Spanish. She admitted this decision would involve school boards, despite the fact that a few minutes before she had rejected the idea of "coercing" Parliament officials in the Juvillà case.

Despite having publicly defended that Pau Juvillà should keep his seat until there was a final judgement by the Supreme Court, the Speaker concludes that this did not happen because her proposal was not accepted. "We are here because they did not want to go collectively until the last consequences".

According to Borràs, the course changed when she saw that ERC and CUP were not willing to disobey collectively and, therefore, changed strategy, trying to paralyse parliamentary activity in the chamber. This proposal ended up with a recommendation from the Bureau to postpone the committees until the Statute of Deputies was convened to decide on a joint position on the case, which created further tension between pro-independence parties. The next day, Borràs had to decide whether to accept a vote by proxy for Juvillà. At this point, the Speaker felt "very uselessly exposed" by CUP. She has stated that she cannot "do it alone" –despite assuring that in the case of Lluís Puig's vote she did it personally– and has pointed out that, with this delegation, she saw that they wanted to "sacrifice" her. "They were asking for this vote with the sole purpose that I would incur criminal consequences," she lamented.

Contradictions between words and facts

Borràs guaranteed that last Thursday Juvillà was still an MP and that she did not reject the request for a vote by proxy, but that she did not accept it to prevent Juvillà from incurring a conflict of interest. The document in which she rejected the vote by proxy shows, however, that this is not true: "Pau Juvillà's vote is not accepted", the president signed.

Not only has she pointed to the CUP and EEC for not accepting her proposal of collective disobedience, but she has also argued that much of the blame for the withdrawal of Juvillà's seat is on her predecessor, Roger Torrent. Two years ago, Torrent stripped then president Quim Torra of his seat. "What happened conditions what is happening now," she said, and recalled that Torra's precedent now empowers the JEC to demand that its resolutions are complied with. Borràs has also confirmed that the CUP offered to take over the speakership, but that it was ruled out because it would have delayed the response by 15 days and because the problem was not that she was not willing to go all the way.

However, the Speaker has admitted that on January 20 the Electoral Board "already ruled" that Juvillà had to be stripped of his seat and on January 28 the next candidate of the CUP list for Lleida was appointed substitute MP. Even so, she has insisted on several occasions in saying that it is "false" that Juvillà stopped being an MP then. She believes that on February 3 he still was, at least politically, an MP, despite the fact that he was neither summoned to Parliament nor to meetings of the Bureau, a fact that Borràs attributes to the chamber's officials. She announced she has launched an inquiry to know how officials acted at all times. Of the general secretary of the chamber, Esther Andreu, who was responsible for ordering the withdrawal of Juvillà's seat, has not said anything. She is directly appointed by Borràs, but the Speaker has simply said that she did it "by legal imperative". When the previous secretary general made the same decision as Andreu, JxCat demanded Torrent to dismiss him.

Thus, Borràs has given this Monday the same explanations that she already gave to the parties in the meeting of spokespersons on Friday: that she did not know that officials were preventing Juvillà from having all the rights of an MP. The Speaker has said that she will give as many explanations as necessary, although she has ruled out the option of holding a press conference. She has also ruled out resigning because it would be understood as "surrender" and believes that the proposal of disobedience that she made to parties is the path that has to be followed. On Thursday, with the decision of Juvillà's vote by proxy, she had the option of bringing together the Bureau and sharing responsibilities with ERC and CUP. She chose not to do so. Four days later, rather than sharing the blame, she has passed it on.