Puigdemont pledges return to Catalonia if he is elected to European Parliament
Former Catalan president rules out arrest alleging he will have parliamentary immunity
Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont says he will be back in Catalonia if he wins a seat in the European Parliament in the May 26 elections –on the basis that the EU would "guarantee his immunity".
Exiled in Belgium, the pro-independence leader said on Catalan RAC1 private radio that he would have immunity "from the moment" he was elected.
"From the moment the results are declared, the immunity works," he asserted.
"From the moment the results are declared, the immunity works"
Carles Puigdemont · Catalan former president
The Junts per Catalunya leader also claimed that the obligation for MEPs to register in their own member state, which would normally take place in Madrid, does not have to be carried out in person.
Second time Puigdemont pledges return
Puigdemont made a similar claim in the aftermath of the December 2017 Catalan elections, promising to return if he won.
The pro-independence leader eventually claimed that there was no need for him to be physically present for his swearing in session as Catalan president. However, the Spanish Constitutional Court ruled that he could not assume the presidency from abroad.
Puigdemont still hopes to be reinstated as Catalan president –at the moment, he is an MP temporarily suspended by Spain's judiciary. His parliamentary group has been trying to modify the Catalan parliament's regulation so that it allows swearing in a president by proxy for a year.
European Parliament reaction
In this case, Puigdemont argued that the decision would rest with the European Parliament, stating that "Europe has the last word on this, not the Spanish Electoral Board."
However, the European Parliament has given their backing to Spain regarding how Puigdemont could assume office while in exile. They've advised the Catalan leader that it would be up to Spain's central government to decide whether or not Puigdemont can sit in the European chamber.
"If you represent Spain, you have to do what Spanish electoral law tells you to do," sources from the European chamber say.
The European sources referred to a law which provides that elected candidates must swear to the Constitution before the Spanish Electoral Board in Madrid within five days after the elections.