SPANISH politicians have scoffed at the idea that ex-Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont could rule parliament remotely from Belgium.
Puigdemont’s party, the Catalan European Democratic Party, announced it is working towards re-electing him as the region’s leader, even though he is still in self-imposed exile in Brussels.
Catalan pro-independence parties won the majority in the regional elections back in December, but they have yet to form a new government.
In order to be re-elected president, Puigdemont needs to be present at the parliamentary session to present his government programme to parliament.
His supporters have suggested that he appears by video link or has someone read his speech on his behalf, as he risks arrest on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds if he returns to Spain.
Puigdemont’s campaign manager Elsa Artadi revealed they were “looking into all the tools that Catalan parliamentary rules allow” but also confirmed that Puigdemont would not go back to Spain.
Meanwhile, Spanish government spokesman Iñigo Méndez de Vigo announced that such a move would be opposed and taken to court, making it clear that it is a legal requirement that the exiled ex-president be there in person if he wants to stand for re-election.
In this case, Puigdemont would be forced to give his seat up to another party member who is able to attend.
Five members of the previous Catalan parliament are currently in Brussels, while three are serving jail time in Madrid for organising an illegal independence referendum, including ex-Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras, whose request to be transferred to a Catalan prison to be able to attend parliamentary sessions has been rejected.