|The Right Honourable|
Torra in May 2018
|131st President of the Government of Catalonia|
Assumed office |
15 May 2018
|Vice President||Pere Aragonès|
(Direct rule from 27 October 2017)
|Member of the Catalan Parliament|
for the Province of Barcelona
Assumed office |
17 January 2018
Joaquim Torra i Pla|
28 December 1962
Blanes, Catalonia, Spain
|Junts per Catalunya|
|Alma mater||Autonomous University of Barcelona|
|Occupation||Lawyer and or|
Joaquim Torra i Pla (born 28 December 1962), known as Quim Torra, is a lawyer and journalist from Catalonia, Spain. Torra is a member of the Parliament of Catalonia and is the current President of the Government of Catalonia.
Born in 1962 in Blanes, Torra graduated from the Autonomous University of Barcelona before joining the legal profession. He worked as lawyer and executive for a multinational insurance company for twenty years before starting his own publishing company. He later held senior positions for the City of Barcelona and Generalitat de Catalunya.
A supporter of Catalan independence, Torra does not belong to any political party. He has held senior positions in several pro-independence organisations including the Òmnium Cultural and Assemblea Nacional Catalana. He was elected to the Parliament of Catalonia at the 2017 regional election as an independent candidate for the pro-independence Junts per Catalunya electoral alliance. In May 2018 he was elected 131st President of Catalonia after the Spanish courts blocked three other candidates.
Torra was born on 28 December 1962 in Blanes, a town in the Province of Girona in north-eastern Catalonia (Spain). He is the third of four children (three boys and one girl). His family were originally from Santa Coloma de Farners but moved to Blanes where his father, also known as Quim Torra, worked as an engineer at the Sociedad Anónima de Fibras Artificiales (SAFA) plant. The family then moved to Barcelona where Torra's father worked as a manager for SAFA. Torra was educated at St. Ignatius College, Barcelona, better known as Jesuïtes Sarrià.
Torra joined the Autonomous University of Barcelona in 1980, graduating in 1985 with a degree in law. His parents later returned to Santa Coloma de Farners where his father was a municipal councillor in 1991 and where his widowed mother still lives.
Torra worked as a lawyer and executive for Winterthur Group, a multinational insurance company, for nearly twenty years including two years at the company's offices in the Canton of Zürich in Switzerland. Whilst in Switzerland he started researching Eugeni Xammar, a Catalan journalist who worked for the United Nations, igniting a passion for Catalan journalism during the 1920s and 1930s. When AXA took over Winterthur Torra was offered a position in Madrid but he chose to return to Catalonia to devote himself to journalism and publishing.
In 2008 Torra founded A Contra Vent Editors, a publisher specialising in literary and humorous journalism, focusing on the revival of Catalonia's literary and journalistic tradition during the 1920s and 1930s. Torra has written several books on the history of Catalonia, journalism and biographies and in 2009 he won the "Carles Rahola" award for Viatge Involuntari a la Catalunya Impossible, an essay on the history of Catalan journalism that mixes fact and fiction to narrate the life of several Catalan journalists during the Second Spanish Republic, including Just Cabot, Lluís Capdevila, Àngel Ferran, Manuel Fontdevila and Francisco Madrid. He has also written articles for the Ara, El Punt Avui, El Temps and Nació Digital.
From September 2011 to 2015, during the mayorship of Xavier Trias, Torra was in charge of promoting the district of Ciutat Vella as director of Foment de Ciutat Vella, SA. In June 2012 he became director of the Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria but in September 2015, shortly after Ada Colau became mayor, he left the organistaion. He was appointed director of Revista de Catalunya in May 2015. He was director of the Generalitat's Center for Contemporary Subject Studies from March 2016 to October 2017. He is currently working as a lawyer and is a member of the Bar Association of Barcelona.
Torra is a member of the pro-Catalan independence Òmnium Cultural (OC), of which he was vice-president from 2013 to 2015, and Assemblea Nacional Catalana (ANC). He was president of the pro-independence Sobirania i Justícia from 2010 to 2011 and a member of the permanent council of the ANC in 2012. In 2011 Torra and lawyer Jordi Cortada filed a lawsuit before the European Court of Human Rights against the Constitutional Court's re-writing of the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia. When the OC president Muriel Casals i Couturier was chosen as a candidate for the Catalan regional election, 2015 Torra was appointed as president in July 2015, serving until December 2015 when he was replaced by Jordi Cuixart.
Torra was associated with the Democratic Union of Catalonia (UDC), a regionalist center-right party, and later Reagrupament, a splinter group of the left-wing pro-independence Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC). Torra isn't a member of any political party and is known to have reservations about certain policies of the Catalan European Democratic Party (PDeCAT), the main constituent of the pro-independence Junts per Catalunya (JuntsxCat) electoral alliance. He is believed to be on good terms with the left-wing pro-independence Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) which is not a member of JuntsxCat.
Torra contested the 2017 regional election as an independent JuntsxCat candidate in the Province of Barcelona and was elected to the Parliament of Catalonia. At the election Catalan secessionists retained a slim majority in the Catalan Parliament. Attempts by the secessionists to inaugurate three candidates - Carles Puigdemont, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Turull - as President of Catalonia were thwarted by the Spanish courts. In May 2018 Torra, the so-called "plan D", was nominated as candidate for president. At the investiture vote held on 12 May 2018 Torra secured 66 votes (JuntsxCat34; ERC–CatSí 32) with 65 votes against (Cs 36; PSC 17; CatComú–Podem 8; PP 4) and four abstentions (CUP-CC 4), failing to achieve the 68 votes necessary for an absolute majority. As a result a second vote was held on 14 May 2018 at which he only needed a simple majority to become president. The result of the second vote was exactly the same as the first vote - 66 in favour, 65 against and four abstentions - and as a result Torra was elected the 131st President of Catalonia. He was sworn in on 17 May 2018. On May 19 he appointed his government, which included as regional ministers, Jordi Turull and Josep Rull (in preventive custody) as well as Toni Comín and Lluís Puig, in self-imposed exile in Belgium and also required by the Spanish justice. Since article 155 was still in force, Mariano Rajoy decided not to publish the appointments in the Generalitat government gazette, which let to a criminal complaint for prevarication brought by President Torra. In order to avoid extending the appliaction of article 155, on May 29 President Torra appointed a new government, which took office on June 2, which ended a period of 7 month of direct rule on Catalonia from Madrid.
The tone and content of articles written by Torra alluding to Spanish-speakers in Catalonia and Spaniards generally have elicited strong criticism from numerous sectors. Critics have accused Torra of being xenophobic and a supremacist. At European level, the President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group, Hans van Baalen, to which Torra's own PDeCAT party is affiliated condemned his rhetoric as "separatist and racist" and the Party of European Socialists stated that "his racist remarks are utterly disgusting and cast deep doubts about his fitness for the job". The Catalan chapter of French NGO SOS Racisme also criticized the tone of the articles, but stated they cannot be considered racism.
In addition several controversial tweets including "Spaniards only know how to plunder" and "Spaniards in Catalonia are like energy - they transform themselves but do not disappear." Torra apologised for the tweets after being nominated to be president.
|2017 regional||Province of Barcelona||Independent||Junts per Catalunya||Elected|