Small “victory” for Carles Puigdemont: exiled in Belgium, the former Catalan independence president was authorized Monday by the Spanish justice to run for the European elections in Spain, despite the lawsuits against him in this country.
Canceling a decision in late April of the Spanish Electoral Commission, a Madrid court ruled that Mr. Puigdemont and two other members of his former regional government, who had left Spain after Spain’s failed secession attempt October 2017, could stand in the elections of May 26.
All three are the subject of an arrest warrant in Spain for their role in this attempt at secession, at the center of a major trial in Madrid in which are judged 12 ex-independence leaders.
Seized by the anti-separatist parties Ciudadanos (liberals) and the Popular Party (conservatives), the electoral commission had refused the candidacy of Carles Puigdemont, Clara Ponsati and Toni Comin on the independentist list “Lliures per Europa” (“Free for Europe” “in Catalan), believing that they could not be considered as residents in Spain.
Carles Puigdemont called this decision a “scandal” and “blow to democracy”.
But the Spanish Supreme Court, seized in a hurry by separatist lawyers, said on Sunday that they had the right to appear because they had not been sentenced to a term of ineligibility, and asked an administrative court to settle the matter definitively.
- Candidates prosecuted –
The court said Monday in its decision “the right of actors to be part, as candidates, the party Lliures per Europa for the elections to the European Parliament in 2019”.
“There is a very good legal work behind every victory won,” welcomed Carles Puigdemont in a tweet, while the leader of the Popular Party conservatives, Pablo Casado, announced that his party would file an appeal against this decision the Constitutional Court.
If elected, Mr Puigdemont claims to have parliamentary immunity. “If we are elected MEPs, we will be MEPs, not only because the rules say so, but because all the precedents say that immunity is activated from the moment you are elected,” he said. in Brussels in April.
But, according to sources in the European Parliament, its possible election could only be validated by the European Parliament after swearing in person before the Spanish Electoral Commission.
He would be arrested immediately if he returned to Spain.
Fired by the central government after the secession attempt in 2017, Puigdemont had fled to Belgium and has since escaped, like other separatists, the prosecution for rebellion launched by the Supreme Court.
His deputy president Oriol Junqueras, who has been in Spain for a year and a half, has been the main defendant in the trial of the attempted secession, which is currently being held in Madrid.
The Catalan separatist parties have already presented candidates imprisoned or exiled to the elections to denounce their situation, while they claim that the Spanish justice pursues them for their ideas.
Five imprisoned separatists were thus elected to the Chamber of Deputies or the Senate during the legislative elections of April 28.
According to the latest projections of the European Parliament, the list of Carles Puigdemont could get no elected on May 26.
The method of electing MEPs in Spain, in a single constituency, is unfavorable to regional parties, particularly powerful in Catalonia and the Basque Country.