Sci-tech

Carles Puigdemont could be re-elected as Catalonia's president

Carles Puigdemont could be re-elected as Catalonia's president”

-Catalonia's main separatist parties said Wednesday they have agreed to re-elect fugitive Carles Puigdemont as president of the region later this month, although how to make that legally possible is still up in the air.

The Catalan assembly's regulations are ambiguous about that possibility, but the anti-independence opposition says that a president can't govern from afar.

Once the Catalan parliament is formed, potential leaders of the regional government will put themselves forward for a vote of confidence.

A spokesman from his Together for Catalonia political platform said that Puigdemont has gained the support of ERC separatists as well.

The assembly has been convened for its first sitting on January 17 and how that issue and the question of Puigdemont's return as the region's leader are eventually resolved are still to therefore be decided.

Ines Arrimadas, leader of the Ciutadans (Citizens) party, said: "It's evident that for governing Catalonia you have to be in Catalonia - you can't do that via WhatsApp or as a hologram". Between them, they hold 66 of the 135 seats in the chamber, and can add the support of four anti-establishment politicians. A new president can, however, form government with a simple majority in a second attempt. The former leader will reportedly be taking part via video in the first session of the parliament - or will have his speech read by an MP - to present his candidature for regional president of Catalonia.

Both officials spoke anonymously because they weren't authorized to be identified in news reports.

The parties' announcement Wednesday raises the specter of a renewed push for independence - and also raises hard questions about how, exactly, Puigdemont might go about governing.

That vote, which had been called by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy after Catalan leaders were dismissed in October, handed pro-independence lawmakers a slim majority of parliamentary seats in the regional government. But the move backfired when independence-supporting parties won enough seats to form a government.

However, the anti-independence party that won most votes in a December 21 regional election poured scorn on the plan as Puigdemont remains in self-imposed exile in Brussels and it said he would be a "hologram president".

In an editorial published on the Politico news website on Wednesday, Puigdemont reiterated his call for talks with Madrid, which Rajoy has tentatively agreed to but on condition that the region drop its push for independence.

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"Madrid must be made to understand that what is needed is dialogue, negotiation and agreement on the future relationship we Catalans want to have with Spain - one based on respect, recognition, cooperation and equality".

This story was reported by The Associated Press.



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