Spain’s electoral board ordered Friday that Catalan separatist president Quim Torra be disqualified from being a member of Catalonia’s regional parliament, meaning he would lose his presidential post.
The electoral board decision comes after Catalonia’s High Court of Justice last month convicted Torra of disobedience for failing to remove separatist symbols from public buildings during an election campaign and banned him from holding public office for 18 months.
Catalonia’s autonomy statute specifies that the head of the region’s government must be a lawmaker in the regional assembly.
The election board ruling comes as Spain’s acting Prime Minister, Socialist Pedro Sanchez, faces a confidence vote in the national parliament next week following a November election. Sanchez he is counting on the abstention of Catalan separatist party ERC’s 13 lawmakers in order to take office for a second term.
The ERC rules Catalonia in coalition with Torra’s more hardline Junts per Catalunya, or Together for Catalonia, party which has said it will vote against Sanchez’s investiture.
Torra slammed the board ruling as a “new coup against Catalan institutions.”
“I will take every step possible against this authoritarian and completely irregular decision,” Torra said, announcing that the Catalan regional parliament would meet in plenary session.
The only body competent to order his dismissal was this parliament, he said, as about a 1,000 people gathered in his support outside the regional government’s offices in Barcelona.
The electoral board was responding to a request from right-wing parties that it ban Torra from public office, following his conviction for disobedience, even before his appeal is heard.