The suspension of Laura Borràs is expected in the fall, when different independence protests coincide

The Borràs case threatens to sneak into a new politically hot autumn in Catalonia. Although the steps for the opening of the oral trial have already been practically exhausted, everything indicates that the controversial decision on if the president of the Parliament should leave office due to the temporary suspension of his seat —which he would maintain, but would not exercise until a conviction is handed down—, as established by the Parliament’s regulations, it is very likely that it will not occur until after the holiday period. With which this thorny issue for the pro-independence parties could impact on a new autumn of high tension since, in addition to the Diada, a strong claim load is expected with the commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the referendum of October 1, 2017 and the subsequent arrest of good part of the Government of that time and other pro-independence leaders.

Laura Borras will face what is practically inescapable, if there is not a last-minute twist in the judicial script. A trial in the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia for alleged irregularities during her time as director of the Institució de les Lletres Catalanes. An alleged fragmentation of her contracts in favor of a collaborator of hers for which the prosecutor accuses her —her and two other accused people— of prevarication and documentary falsehood to six years in prison and 21 years of disqualification.

The case can explode between the Diada and 1-O

But beyond the personal affectation, the Borràs court case has a full impact on Catalan politics due to the fact that article 25.2 of the Parliament’s regulations indicates that any deputy or deputy who has an open oral trial for a corruption case should be temporarily suspended from his duties until the trial is over. Functions that you can recover if there is no conviction of disqualification.

This scenario of great tension for Catalan politics in general and for independence in particular is imminent. But the judicial times —which Borràs has delayed to the extreme with a reprimand included from the judge instructing the case— and the parliamentary times, push the resolution of this controversial matter for after the holidays. And they place it around key dates for the independence movement such as the Onze de Setembre Day or the fifth anniversary of the 1-O referendum.

Judicial delay with reprimand from the magistrate

In the judicial field, the decision could come at any time after the prosecution has already presented the indictment and the investigating judge has rejected the last two appeals filed by the defense of Borras. Including one of them, in terms of disqualifying the magistrate, which has earned the President of Parliament a reprimand.

In the order, the magistrate Carlos Ramos —appointed instructor of the case in substitution of Jordi Seguí, who has finished the commission of services for which he was assigned to the criminal court of the TSJC— rejects the last appeals presented by the defense of Borràs and the attributed to a clear obstructionist intention: “It can only be considered abuse of rights and procedural fraud” Aimed at removing the judge predetermined by law and ” delaying the processing, with the aim of delaying the decision to be adopted on an eventual opening of oral proceedings.”

The truth is that there could still be some other recourse in the form of Borràs’s defense and in fact the investigating judge does not have a limit to set the coverage of the oral trial. It could be at the end of this month of July or perfectly leave the subject open until after the holidays without a predetermined horizon.

The table and the plenary inoperative

But even if the judicial decision were made in the last days of July, this would be one more step in the judicial process, but it would not have to immediately activate the controversial parliamentary mechanisms that could remove Borràs from the presidency of the Parliament. According to parliamentary sources, once the oral trial is open, as everything seems to indicate will happen, the issue must be discussed in the Parliamentary Table and it is not ruled out that the suspension ends up being voted on in plenary session.

According to parliamentary sources, the issue should be discussed at the Parliamentary Table

The Parliament has scheduled the last plenary session of the current session for this Wednesday and Thursday. Initially, none is expected. more until September 27 when the new period of sessions begins after the Diada. A plenary session that would be squarely in the commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the first arrests and searches of the Generalitat for the referendum of October 1. In addition, these same sources indicate that the month of August is a non-working month and this would prevent the Table from meeting if an extraordinary mechanism is not activated, which is not planned.

Laura Borràs has entrenched herself in defending not only the logical presumption of innocence —which according to her violates the controversial article in the Parliament’s regulations—, but also in denying that we are in front of an alleged case of corruption. The president of the Parliament assures that this is a new case of political persecution against the independence movement. An equalization to the judicial cases for the referendum that neither the ERC nor the CUP share and that only has the support of their party, Together for Catalonia.

And most importantly, Borràs warns that she will not resign in any case as president of the Parliament, with which she transfers to the pro-independence majority of the Table and the Plenary the decision on her position if the suspension should finally be voted on. A vote that in the midst of a politically inflamed autumn, and with various demonstrations planned, may have unforeseeable consequences not only in deepening the division of the independence movement as a whole, but also in a possible internal crisis of the Government shared by Esquerra and Junts.

ERC and CUP expect it to depart before the crash

However, sources from Esquerra and the CUP consulted by Public they do not take it for granted that this issue ends up voting. The two political forces do not close the door on Laura Borràs ending up leaving office voluntarily as pressure grows, despite the current position of the president of the Parliament in Numantia. And they warn that they will not make their position on the issue public until the vote is in the making.

ERC will not pronounce itself until Borràs decides

Both the CUP and ERC appeal to the preservation of the institution. Borràs should not “harm the movement neither to the independence project nor to the country’s institutions”. “She is not only a political leader of a specific political space, she is the president of the Parliament of Catalonia and, at the moment of deciding how to face her legal case, she should put the preservation interests of the institution”, assures Esquerra’s assistant general secretary, Marta Vilalta.

For its part, the CUP has abandoned this Tuesday its until now persistent ambiguity about the case and has asked Borràs to take advantage of the “temporary suspension” if an oral trial is finally opened for a case of alleged corruption. “If he doesn’t do it, he will be forcing a new scenario of discredit,” CUP deputy Xavier Pellicer has warned. The CUP presses in this way so that the decision on the suspension of Borràs does not reach the hands of the Table of the Parlament, where the anti-capitalists are present and should decide on it.

Xavier Pellicer, deputy of the CUP: “We do not want to anticipate scenarios”

“This would be extremely damaging to the independence movement and to the camera,” he warned. In this sense, believes that Borràs should move away, that yes pointing out that they do not ask for his resignation, but a temporary suspension until the cause is resolved. As in Esquerra, asked about the position that the CUP will adopt if the decision finally falls to the Parliamentary Board, Pellicer did not want to advance the decision. “We don’t want to anticipate scenarios,” he has said. Esquerra sources also point out that “it wouldn’t make sense for us to speak out when It is not clear what Borràs will end up doingwe will see”.

The debate does not focus on the guilt or innocence of Borràs, but on a legal question: Are the accusations for a case of corruption or not? Otherwise, any other type of crime is outside the effects of article 25.2 of the Parliament’s regulations. In Esquerra they are cautious: “The case is not comparable to the rest of the trials for the referendum or other actions linked to the independence process, it has nothing to do with it. We will not define the accusations, but the prudent thing is that Borràs takes a step to the side, defend yourself in court as best you can, and then we’ll see. That is what we would do, which is the best for the institution and for the independence movement as a whole,” say sources from the Republican leadership.

High tension in Junts and on the sets of TV3

The truth is that the tension in Junts and especially in the surroundings of Borràs herself grows at times due to the consequences of taking castling to the extreme. Despite the public support for the president of the Parlament of the Junts leadership, in private some voices from party leaders emphasize that “It makes no sense to endanger the cohesion of the Government”. In fact, no minister or minister participated in the act of support organized a few days ago by a self-proclaimed Support group for Laura Borràs.

A tension that was also manifested in the unpleasant episode experienced on TV3 when one of Borràs’s closest collaborators, the deputy of Junts Francesc de Dalmases, shook, locked himself in a dressing room and he scolded a journalist from the program FAQ. Dalmases was furious because he did not like the questions that the President of the Parliament was asked about the alleged irregularities in the ILC in a live interview. A recognized aggression by the direction of the program and the production company El Terrat that broadcasts it and that had various witnesses. This case has generated a strong controversy with numerous convictions by professional journalists and various parliamentary groups.

The pressure cooker of the Borràs case begins to boil as the opening of the oral trial for the alleged irregularities in the ILC approaches. And the transfer of the issue from the courts to the Parliament could lead to an episode of high political tension with unforeseen consequences. Will have to see How far is Borràs willing to go? in the attack on the rest of the independence movement and how far Junts per Catalunya wants to play it for, neither more nor less, the president of the party. President, although with a little less force after closing the second Junts congress, which has clearly won the general secretary, Jordi Turull.

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