Catalonia Separatists Support Re-Election of Exiled Leader Puigdemont

Joanna Estrada
January 13, 2018

The two main Catalan separatist parties Together for Catalonia (Junts per Catalonia - JpC) and the Republican Left (ERC) have reached an agreement that aims to see former Carles Puigdemont re-elected as leader of the region in northeast Spain.

Consequently Puigdemont faces arrest and nearly certain imprisonment if he returns to Spain and as in the case of his former deputy leader, Oriol Junqueras (who has spent over two months in prison), it would be unlikely the Spanish Supreme Court would grant him bail.

The separatists' agreement is the first significant step toward forming a new government in the restive Spanish region following regional elections December 21.

Mr Puigdemont, who is in self-imposed exile in Belgium, may either return and risk arrest or be sworn in from overseas.

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

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.

However, if Puigdemont is elected leader it is uncertain how he would govern from Brussels.

Mr Puigdemont said on Tuesday at a videoconference that "it is not possible to return to Catalonia" because of the current legal situation.

He is in Belgium, however, and will be arrested if he comes back to Spain on charges of rebellion and sedition.

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.

Her party won the most votes in December but not enough to form a government.

Forcadell was a key figure among Catalan leaders who attempted to break away from Spain, a process that culminated with the regional parliament declaring unilateral independence on October 27.

Mr Puigdemont boasted again on Wednesday that the three Catalan pro-independence parties had secured a majority despite some of their candidates campaigning from self-imposed exile or in jail while facing possible charges of rebellion.

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.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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