The Catalan president Quim Torra has modified the proposed ministers for the Catalan government in order to overcome the block imposed by Spain.

Previously the list included Catalan leaders in jail or exiled in European countries. On Tuesday, however, the Spanish premier Mariano Rajoy made it clear that he will not authorize their appointment, replying to a letter from Torra demanding that their nominations be “immediately” approved.

Substitutes

The new list of ministers, who are likely to take office next week, includes Laura Borràs, Damià Calvet, Àngels Chacon, and Alba Vergés. Borràs will replace Lluís Puig, currently in Brussels, as proposed Culture minister. Vergés will lead the Health Department instead of Toni Comín, also in the Belgian capital. Chacón will take over the Business Department replacing Elsa Artadi, who is in turn substituting Jordi Turull in the Presidency Department. Meanwhile Calvet will substitute Josep Rull, who is in prison in the Madrid region, as minister of Territory and Sustainability.

On Tuesday evening, the Spanish government said it was its “steadfastness and determination” in the defence of legality that provoked the changes to the list made by Torra.

“The (Spanish) government wants to emphasize that its steadfastness and its determination when it comes to defending legality are what have guaranteed the citizens of Catalonia the right to have a government in a position to fulfill its obligations and meet its responsibilities”, it said.

Limits of direct rule

Four deposed ministers had already accepted Torra’s offer to be reinstated, including Jordi Turull and Josep Rull, who are in prison. They were deposed from their posts as heads of Presidency and Territory departments. The Catalan leader also picked Lluís Puig (Culture) and Toni Comín (Health) for his cabinet, both of whom are in Brussels. However, once Rajoy replied to his letter, Torra changed his tack in order to speed up the process of forming a government.

A Catalan government juridical advisor committee ruled that Torra’s nominees should be able to assume their posts, and that Madrid has to allow the nominations to be published in Catalonia’s official gazette (DOGC).

For the lawyers, forming a government is within Torra’s attributions, which are “not subject to the authorization or control” of direct rule. “There is no legal circumstance exempting the ministers from taking office” says the non-binding ruling.

Criticism

The move was met with criticism from across the board. For her part, Inés Arrimadas, leader of unionist Ciutadans said that “Torra announces measures to continue with the (independence) process and it will get worse”.

The grassroots pro-independence group Assemblea Nacional Catalana (ANC) also criticised the new Catalan president. “Accepting the injustice of the Spanish State does not make an effective government” the organization tweeted shortly after Torra’s announcement was made.

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