Carles Puigdemont set to be named Catalonia president in exile as deal is reached by separatist parties

The deal hangs on whether Mr Puigdemont can legally become president by videolink

Jon Stone
Europe Correspondent
Wednesday 10 January 2018 11:11
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Carles Puigdemont addresses the media after watching the results of Catalonia's regional election in Brussels
Carles Puigdemont addresses the media after watching the results of Catalonia's regional election in Brussels

Carles Puigdemont is set be re-installed as Catalonia’s president of government after a deal was reached between the region’s two major separatist parties.

The agreement between Mr Puigdemont’s Junts per Catalunya party and the Catalan Republic Left would to see the exiled or fugitive politician installed at a meeting of the parliament mid next week.

The deal, announced early on Wednesday, comes after pro-independence parties won the narrowest of majorities in seats in the Catalan parliament, following fresh elections on 21 December called by Spain’s national government – which had suspended the sitting Catalan government.

Spokespeople for both parties confirmed the deal had been struck, but confusion remains about how the president will read his legally mandatory installation speech to the Catalan Parliament on 17 January without returning to Catalonia, where he is wanted by the Spanish authorities.

The Catalan Parliament’s lawyers are set to examine proposals for Mr Puigdemont to read his address via videolink from abroad – or whether another MP can read the speech, according to Spanish media reports.

The possibility of a remote investiture is not covered by the rules of the Catalan parliament, and the ERC says the deal to reinstall Mr Puigdemont is conditional on a legally sound way of reading the address.

Mr Puigdemont is currently living in Brussels, where he fled after charges of sedition, rebellion, and the misuse of public funds were levelled against him by Spanish authorities for his role in the region’s disputed independence referendum.

While Spanish authorities have dropped a bid for a European Arrest Warrant to deport the politician, he has previously said he would only return to Spain if offered certain “guarantees”. Some of Mr Pugidemont’s political allies who have returned to or remain in Spain are currently in jail on similar charges.

Mr Puigdemont said on Tuesday at a videoconference that “it is not possible to return to Catalonia” because the current legal situation. His lawyers have previously suggested that he might return to Spain following December’s elections.

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