Laura Borràs suspended as speaker and MP
JxCat leader calls ERC, PSC and the CUP "hypocritical judges" and accuses them of violating her rights
BarcelonaTogether for Catalonia (JxCat) leader Laura Borràs was suspended this Tuesday as an MP and speaker as a result of her indictment in the Institution of Catalan Letters case. (ILC) The parties represented in parliament's governing body, the parliamentary bureau, have decided to apply article 25.4 of the chamber's regulations, which provides for the suspension of parliamentarians appearing in court accused of crimes linked to corruption. Borràs will be tried over alleged crimes of malfeasance and forgery. The prosecution argues that she favoured a friend when she was director of the ICL, splitting contracts to be able to award them without putting them out to tender. However, Borràs claims it is "political repression".
Borràs made an appearance at 2.30 pm to defend her position, with a very tough speech criticising JxCat's coalition partners Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), as well as the Catalan Socialists' party and anti-capitalist CUP, all of which have representatives on the parliamentary bureau. She lambasted bureau members individually for "dressing up as judges" and acting in a perfectly coordinated manner with the courts. "Hypocritical judges," she thundered, stating that her presumption of innocence and her constituents' rights to be represented have been violated. "I am not resigning, I have been suspended and it has been done against my will", she railed, "what has happened today is extremely serious".
The JxCat leader has reproached the bureau members for not seeking a report from Parliament's lawyers before suspending her, despite the fact that she has been charged with malfeasance, which the Spanish General Council of the Judiciary classifies as crime of corruption. In any case, Laura Borràs has again reiterated that she has not committed any of the crimes she stands accused of.
Leaving the meeting, which was held while a couple of hundred people protested outside Parliament in support of Borràs, the CUP MP Carles Riera explained that this is a "temporary" and "reversible" suspension, in application of the regulations, and will stay in place until a sentence is delivered. In this situation, Borràs will keep her seat as an MP but will not be able to vote nor collect a salary from Parliament.
Riera also explained that at the beginning of the session Borràs was asked to step aside or start the procedure to be suspended under Article 25.2 of the regulations. This article, which does not mention corruption, foresees that any MP may request their suspension in the event that they are indicted. The JxCat president, however, rejected this path of action as she had done so far, and all other parties which are part of the bureau suspended her for corruption.
Vergès's new powers
The agreement approved by the bureau also contemplates applying article 40 of the parliamentary regulations, which establishes that, in case of the speaker is "absent or impeded", they will be replaced by the deputy speaker with "the same rights, duties and attributions". This means, in short, that deputy speaker Alba Vergés (ERC) will be in charge of these tasks. It now remains to be seen whether parties propose any internal changes within the bureau so that it is someone from JxCat who takes over these tasks. Earlier this week ERC stated it had no intention of taking over the speakership, which according to its coalition agreement with JxCat should be picked by the latter.