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Puigdemont picked by separatist party for EU polls

Puigdemont picked by separatist party for EU polls

MADRID: Former Cat­alan leader Carles Puigd­emont, who led a failed attempt to break Catalonia from Spain in 2017, was chosen to represent his separatist party in European Parliament elections in May, the party said on Sunday.

Puigdemont, who lives in self-imposed exile in Belg­ium, was selected by the pro-independence Junts per Cata­­­l­unya (JxCat) party during a meeting to pick its candidates.

“We believe that the best way to continue internationalising the conflict and that Europe understands what is happening in Catalonia... is that this candidacy be headed by Carles Puigdemont,” Elsa Artadi, a JxCat lawmaker in Catalonia’s regional parliament, said on Twitter.

The push by Puigdemont and his party to hold an independence referendum in October 2017 in defiance of a court ban sparked Spain’s deepest political crisis since its transition to democracy in the 1970s.

The referendum in the wealthy northeastern region was followed by a declaration of independence by political leaders — a dozen of whom are now on trial.

Puigdemont has lived in Belgium since Spain cracked down on the independence bid and faces prosecution if he ever returns to the country.

“It is time to take another step to internationalise the right to self-determination in Catalonia from the heart of Europe to the whole world,” Puigdemont tweeted shortly after his party announced he would be its lead candidate in the EU elections.

Several of the 12 Catalan leaders on trial over the separatist push are also standing for office in upcoming votes, despite the legal proceedings against them.

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2019

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