The Catalan Parliament president began party consultations Monday in Barcelona, looking for a new presidential candidate for the region, after the withdrawal of the separatist leader Carles Puigdemont. The former Catalan president – deposed by the Spanish government after the symbolic declaration of an independent “Catalan Republic” on 27 October – announced Thursday from Belgium, where he is in exile, that he renounced to running again for the regional presidency.
Being prosecuted in Spain for “rebellion” and “sedition,” Mr. Puigdemont had first to hand himself over to justice if he wanted to participate in the nomination debate in Parliament, according to the conditions laid down by the Constitutional Court. He finally withdrew his candidacy in order to facilitate, he said, the quick formation of an independent government in Catalonia.
The Regional Parliament’s president, the separatist Roger Torrent, was supposed to meet on Monday with representatives of the seven parliamentary groups before designating a new candidate for the nomination.
The only proposed name to this day within the separatist camp — which holds the seats’ majority in the Regional Assembly — is Jordi Sanchez, elected deputy on 21 December on Mr. Puigdemont’s list. However, his nomination seems to be just as problematic as Mr. Puigdemont’s.
The former president of the influential independent association ANC, Mr. Sanchez has been convicted of sedition and incarcerated. He would need the authorization of the Supreme Court in order to leave prison and defend his program in front of the regional deputies.
Furthermore, the smallest of the three Catalan independent parties, the Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP, 4 deputies, far left), has announced that it would stand in the way of Mr. Sanchez’s nomination, in absence of a commitment by his allies to advance unilaterally towards secession.
The four CUP deputies would then abstain during the nomination vote. This, normally, should not be a problem for the other two separatist parties. Together for Catalonia and the Republican Left of Catalonia, which total 66 votes versus 65 on the opposing side.
However, Mr. Puigdemont and another Catalan deputy, Toni Comin, are in Belgium and cannot participate in the vote: therefore, their candidate, Jordi Sanchez, will not have the necessary support.
Catalonia, where 7.5 million Spanish live, remains placed under Madrid’s direct administration since 27 October.