Catalonia Separatists Support Re-Election of Exiled Leader Puigdemont

Catalonia's separatist parties will support Carles Puigdemont's re-election as regional head. Virginia Mayo AP

The result was a setback for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain, who had called the election in the hope that voters would deliver a decisive blow to the secessionist movement.

However, another issue is that although separatists have a majority, the rules of the Catalan assembly dictate that deputies can not delegate their vote and with Puigdemont in Belgium and Junqueras and other elected deputies either in jail or in exile and in theory unable to vote, that majority effectively vanishes.

Madrid dismissed the regional parliament in Catalonia and called a new election after an illegal referendum in October but this backfired when pro-independence parties across the political spectrum won a narrow majority in the regional assembly.

A spokesman with Puigdemont's Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia) ticket said that the separatist politician secured the backing of the left-republican ERC party Tuesday evening in Brussels. If carried through, the move would reinstall a leader who was ousted from power, along with the rest of the region's leaders, by Spain's central government for unilaterally declaring the region's independence last fall. He is likely to be arrested if he returns to Spain, where he faces charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds.

Ines Arrimadas added: "It's evident that for governing Catalonia you have to be in Catalonia - you can't do that via WhatsApp or as a hologram".


The Spanish attorney general wants to prosecute 20 separatists, including Puigdemont, on charges of organizing an unconstitutional referendum on October 1 and then declaring Catalonia's independence.

Former Catalan president Artur Mas gestures during a news conference to resign as PDeCat party president in Barcelona, Spain January 9, 2018.

Once the parliament is formed, potential leaders of the regional government will put themselves forward for a vote of confidence, although it could take months for a new government to emerge.

Some of Mr Pugidemont's political allies are in jail on similar charges, having been arrested as he fled. Those leaders remain out of the country, and Puigdemont has said if he's re-elected, he would discharge his duties remotely, via a video linkup such as Skype.

The plan may offer a way out of the chaos surrounding the formation of a new Catalan government at a time when many of its senior candidates are either in jail or facing prosecution.

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