Puigdemont says he can be president from Brussels using “new technologies”

Catalan leader claims Parliament regulations "do not forbid" taking office by proxy

Carles Puigdemont during the interview with Catalunya Ràdio (by Blanca Blay)
Carles Puigdemont during the interview with Catalunya Ràdio (by Blanca Blay) / ACN

ACN | Brussels

January 19, 2018 10:42 AM

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said today that he can be president of Catalonia from Brussels using "new technologies". In an interview with Catalan public radio, Puigdemont explained that he has only two options, being president or becoming a prisoner. "Between being president or becoming a prisoner, I’d rather be president," admitted Puigdemont, adding that he thinks he can "serve people better" from exile and working as president than in prison, where his availability to offer interviews, meet people or stakeholders, or talk directly to citizens would be much more restricted than from Brussels.

Puigdemont said that the Catalan Parliament regulations "do not forbid" taking office from Belgium, and he insisted that any MP who has a majority behind him or her should be allowed to become president. "I hope no one is questioning my rights as an MP," Puigdemont said. The leader of Together for Catalonia (JxCat) said that his commitment is to "reinstate" the Catalan government sacked by Madrid, and he warned the Spanish government and the Spanish king against trying to stop this. "People voted and they deserve respect. If Parliament ratifies me as president, the head of state does not have the right to stop this legal and constitutional mandate," he said, on being asked about what would happen if King Felipe VI refuses to sign the decree appointing him president.

Puigdemont made the case for ruling the country at a distance by highlighting that the Spanish government is running the Catalan administration from Madrid, under Article 155 of the Constitution. “What is better: controlling the Catalan government from Madrid or doing it from Catalonia and a part of Europe?” he asked. He also pointed out that Spain’s ruling People’s Party is governing Catalonia despite being the smallest party in the Catalan Parliament. “What is better: controlling the economy with four MPs, or with 70?"

Following his appointment on Wednesday, the new Catalan Parliament president, Roger Torrent, now has to decide whether to allow Puigdemont to be sworn in remotely or not. “I have to guarantee that the candidate [for president] can be elected,” Torrent told a Catalan newspaper on Friday. While, Parliament lawyers say the regulations do not allow taking office at a distance, Puigdemont stressed that “Parliament lawyers do not hold the seat number 136 and must respect the rights of the MPs.”