The job of president of Catalonia is a dangerous one. For nearly a century, an extremely high percentage of those who have held the office —possibly the highest among all democratically elected officials— have had to face trials, convictions, reprisals and persecution. As individuals, they were rather diverse in terms of their personality and views, they lived through distinctly different times in history, but the persistence of the persecution suggests that the office they held was targeted as much as the holders themselves. Otherwise it would be too big a coincidence.
On Monday president Quim Torra added his name to the list of Catalans who have sat in the dock before, while or after they were president. Many years ago I interviewed a Spanish PSOE leader who told me that every time his party had to pick a candidate to stand for the job of president of Andalusia, they tried to choose someone who didn’t harbour a great deal of pro-Andalusian feelings. But, once elected, they all developed them eventually. The Catalan case is somewhat different: every Catalan president was already endowed with a strong institutional sense before being voted in. But the job eventually bestowed a representative strength on them. You see, being the president of Catalonia is a dangerous job. But it is also the highest embodiment of a solid, persistent, democratic ideal.