Saturday, 23 March, 2019


Catalan Separatists Back Puigdemont, Reviving Prospect Of Independence Push

Catalan Separatists Back Puigdemont, Reviving Prospect Of Independence Push Catalan Separatists Back Puigdemont, Reviving Prospect Of Independence Push
Kristine Garrett | 12 January, 2018, 20:28

The main separatist parties of Catalonia have reached a preliminary agreement to reelect Carles Puigdemont as leader of the restive Spanish region, even as he remains in self-imposed exile in Belgium, the Catalan news media reported Wednesday. Puigdemont, who is in Belgium after he was ousted by the Spanish government in October after being accused of holding an illegal referendum, risks arrest if he goes back to Spain.

However, it is unclear how Mr Puigdemont would lead the regional government from Brussels as he could be arrested if he returns to Spain.

Pro-independence parties achieved a slim majority of seats but they failed to get over 50% of the popular vote, bringing no resolution to months of a increasingly bitter impasse.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called an election in Catalonia on 21 December to try to resolve Spain's worst political crisis in decades after Catalan leaders declared independence in October following a banned referendum on secession.

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.

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.

Junts per Catalunya representative Jordi Xucla told Spanish national radio: "The December 21 result gave us the mandate to reflect the majority".

Catalan Separatists Back Puigdemont, Reviving Prospect Of Independence Push

Ines Arrimadas, the leader of Ciudadanos (Citizens), which wants Catalonia to remain part of Spain, said a fugitive from justice could not be lead the region.

Meanwhile, Carme Forcadell, another prominent pro-independence lawmaker re-elected last month, said Thursday she will not seek re-election as the regional parliament's speaker when the chamber sits next week.

Opposition parties - not to mention the Spanish courts - are likely to contest the legality of the deal, which would become official next week when the new regional parliament convenes. However, it could take months for a new government to emerge.

Earlier this week, former regional president Artur Mas resigned as head of the PDeCat leading separatist party.

The other main potential candidate to represent the pro-independence parties would be ERC leader Oriol Junqueras, who is serving a custodial sentence in a Madrid jail.

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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