ALDE expels Puigdemont’s party
PDeCAT ascribes decision to "harassment campaign," while Ciutadans expresses "satisfaction" at becoming the only Spanish representatives within European liberals
European liberal party ALDE has decided to expel Carles Puigdemont's PDeCAT political force on October 27, 2018, in an extraordinary meeting held in Brussels; the expulsion was proposed due to the PDeCAT's implication in the so-called '3%' corruption scandal.
Over the course of the gathering held at the Thon EU Hotel, the ALDE council and its member parties decided to put an end to the affiliation with the party presided currently by David Bonvehí.
ALDE statement urges ‘dialogue’
According to a statement released by ALDE, over a third of the officials present voted in favor of ending the connection. The text further states that the decision “does not implicate any position” from the European party regards “Spanish internal affairs” but urges “all political actors” to dialogue “to allow a sustainable solution,” all without explicitly mentioning Catalonia’s push for independence.
PDeCAT, the party of former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, was part of the government that held a referendum on independence last October despite Spain’s opposition. The party is back in power, but some of its leaders are either in jail or abroad.
ALDE decision result of “harassment campaign” from Cs, says PDeCAT
Meanwhile, PDeCAT circumscribed the ALDE decision to expel them as the result of a “harassment campaign” from unionist Ciutadans (Cs) party, according to them, since the latter joined the formation in 2016.
Additionally, the Catalan party criticized the expulsion process as being filled with “irregularities” and “lack of guarantees” which left PDeCAT “defenseless.” “It’s ALDE who betrayed itself and sold out. It’s no longer the party that PDeCAT became a part of,” wrote the Catalan group in a statement.
Cs express "satisfaction" at decision
A spokesman for Ciutadans, Luis Garicano, expressed "satisfaction" at the decision, which leaves the unionist party as the only Spanish force to be part of the European liberals.
"We're in, now, and they're out," said MEP Javier Nart after PDeCAT was expelled.
PDeCAT: corruption case is an excuse
In September, following the ALDE party demanding clarifications from the Catalan party after it was accused in a major corruption scandal, PDeAT had considered leaving the group. The party officials told the Catalan News Agency (ACN) that bringing up the corruption case for which CDC party was convicted was just an excuse, as they have "nothing to do with it".
While in 2016 ALDE's leadership was backing the "right to decide" for Catalonia, it did not support the country's bid for independence a year later and Carles Puigdemont's cabinet's push for this aim.
ALDE officials say PDeCAT’s ideology or the party’s stance on independence is not the issue at stake, as they claim not to interfere in national politics on a general basis –but Puigdemont's political force believe it does have some relation with the proposal of expelling them.
Ciutadans: pro-independence foes joined ALDE in 2016
The relationship between PDeCAT and ALDE started deteriorating in 2016 when Ciutadans, Catalonia’s main unionist party, joined the European liberals.
Currently, Ciutadans has two MEPs—one more than PDeCAT. In recent times, the party has soared in polls all across Spain, and is very likely to increase its number of MEPs in the upcoming European Parliament election.
The ‘3%’ case
The corruption case affecting the Palau de la Música concert hall also involved the CDC political party, with former treasurer Daniel Osàcar sentenced to four years and five months in jail.
The party, the predecessor of the pro-independence PDeCAT party, was accused of rigging public tenders in exchange for a 3-4% commission to illegally finance itself, with the money being transferred through false concert hall donations.
Last July, Spain’s National Court widened the investigation of the so-called ‘3%’ corruption scandal to include PDeCAT and its precursor, Convergència (CDC). Both parties are accused of influence peddling, bribery, and money laundering.
CDC, which governed Catalonia for almost 30 years, allegedly used two foundations to get kickbacks from private companies in exchange for public contracts.