PP senator Rafael Hernando is the fourth secretary of the upper-chamber’s Bureau whose microphone picked up an expletive aimed at jailed former MEP Raül Romeva: “F*** you, scumbag!” It was Hernando’s way of bragging about the fact that he had managed to interrupt Romeva’s oath of allegiance. As a member of the Senate’s Bureau, the former PP spokesman in the Spanish parliament was tasked with calling out the new senators’ names in alphabetical order, taking turns with president Manuel Cruz, who asked them “Do you swear or promise to abide by the Constitution?” Everything was ticking along nicely until it was Raül Romeva’s turn to take the oath.
The former Catalan Foreign minister and MEP used the phrase “until the proclamation of the Catalan Republic, forever committed to liberty, equality and fraternity …” but before he could finish, Hernando interrupted him by calling out the next name on the list. Cruz gestured to his new partner on the Bureau and Romeva managed to finish the oath of allegiance: “… as a political prisoner and compelled by the law, I do”.
Following Hernando’s interruption, there were expressions of approval coming from the PP’s benches and clearly audible on the session’s audio recording is the conservative senator saying “F*** you, scumbag!” [in Spanish] as Romeva was returning to his seat.
Back when he was an MP, Hernando already had a reputation for being a brash public speaker, particularly when targeting Catalan independence supporters. He also used crass language against his party’s other political opponents, such as Podemos and the PSOE. When Pablo Casado was elected new leader of the conservative party, Hernando was replaced by Dolors Montserrat and now has been relegated to a seat in the Senate, where he was appointed to the Bureau last Tuesday.
PP senators had resorted to shouting and pretending to cough loudly while ERC and JxCat senators pronounced their oath. When it was Laura Castel’s turn —an ERC senator—, Cruz had to ask the PP backbenchers to be silent. Still, the attitude of the PP and Ciudadanos representatives towards their pro-independence colleagues was not particularly belligerent, even though none of them went up to the ERC bench to greet Romeva.