JxCat propose to swear in Carles Puigdemont as president
Leader of unionists Ciutadans calls on Spanish government to act before law enabling Puigdemont to be sworn in from Germany comes into effect
The pro-independence group Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) has proposed to swear in Carles Puigdemont, head of the candidacy, as Catalan president by May 14 at the latest. After meeting in Berlin at the Park Inn by Radisson hotel, JxCat decided to make the most of the parliament’s recent voting in favour of amending the presidency bill in order to allow the deposed leader to be reinstated from Germany, where he currently resides awaiting a decision on an extradition request from Spain.
Pro-independence forces used their majority in the parliament to pass the reform on Friday, paving the way for Puigdemont to be invested in absentia. This set it on another collision course with Spain, which responded saying it would challenge the eventual amendment in its Constitutional Court. This would automatically put the bill on hold.
The leader of unionists Ciutadans, Inés Arrimadas, has criticized the law to amend the presidency bill saying it is the thing of “seperatist parties.” She called on the Spanish government to “act” before it comes into force by filing an appeal in the Constitutional Court.
She termed it the “Puigdemont law” on Saturday, “made to measure” for someone “fleeing from justice.” Arrimadas also asserted that she is convinced it will not “come into fruition.”
May 14 deadline
JxCat’s announcement was made by spokesman Eduard Pujol once the meeting came to a close. According to Pujol, the decision is based on taking advantage of “the new playing field” and the “possibilities” that the reform of the presidency law present.
The group set May 14 as a “deadline” to try and swear in the deposed president. If his investiture does not take place by then, its plan B is to attempt to invest the jailed former grassroots activist Jordi Sànchez. If that fails, JxCat will propose another candidate.
Sànchez has already been denied permission by Spanish courts to attend two previous investiture debates at the Catalan parliament. So far, JxCat has put forward three presidential candidates, including Puigdemont, Sànchez, and Jordi Turull, who was jailed before he could attend the second round of his swearing in debate.
The highly-anticipated meeting in Berlin, called by Puigdemont himself as he is unable to leave Germany until its courts make a decision on his extradition case, began at 4pm. The Spanish justice system wants Puigdemont on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds. German judges in Schleswig-Holstein, where Puigdemont was held after being arrested on his return to Belgium, rejected the allegations of rebellion in their first decision over the dismissed leader's extradition.
Nearly five months on from the election called by Madrid after the sacking of the Catalan government, the country remains without a leader. And now the deadline of May 22 to form a new government is looming. If the pro-independence majority is unable to do so by then, a snap election will be automatically called.
Catalonia has effectively been without its own government since last year, when Madrid dismissed the cabinet following a declaration of independence on October 27, thus stripping the country of its self-rule.
After the election, held on December 21 last year, pro-independence forces JxCat, Esquerra Republicana, and the CUP kept their overall majority in the parliament, while unionist Ciutadans emerged as the individual party with the most seats. All attempts made by pro-independence groups to make the most of their majority and form a new government have so far been blocked by Spain.