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Spanish courts say Carles Puigdemont can run in EU elections

The former Catalan premier, who fled Spain after the failed secession bid, had challenged an earlier decision to ban his nomination

Carles Puigdemont (r) in a video conference on April 22.
Carles Puigdemont (r) in a video conference on April 22. EFE

Former Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont will be able to run in European elections on May 26.

Three Madrid courts on Monday said that he and two other ex-government officials who fled Spain after the unilateral secession bid – Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí – may participate as candidates in the European Parliament election with the Lliures per Europa coalition.

Spanish democracy does not deserve this kind of insult

PP leader Pablo Casado

The decisions contradict the Central Electoral Commission, which had banned all three from running on the basis that, having fled Spain, they were technically living abroad yet not properly registered as Spaniards residing in another country.

The Madrid courts have now confirmed an earlier opinion issued on Sunday by the Supreme Court, which said that, in its view, this situation did not make the three Catalan leaders ineligible. The higher court, however, had left the final decision up to three administrative courts in Madrid.

Supporters of Catalan independence hailed the decision by the Madrid courts. “This is a right, and justice is being done,” said Marta Vilalta, the spokeswoman for the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), another separatist party. “On May 26, Catalonia will be able to choose the independence option that best represents it.”

“They tried to silence us and push us aside, but there is no democratic wall that is more forceful or more effective than Junts per Catalunya,” tweeted Puigdemont’s party, which is running in EU elections under the Lliures per Europa brand.

Spain’s conservative forces disagree with the decision, and the conservative Popular Party (PP), which is fiercely opposed to the Catalan independence drive, has said it will appeal the decision with the Constitutional Court.

“We consider it fraud that a person who has fled the country may run in European elections without even living in Spain. We feel that Spanish democracy does not deserve this kind of insult,” said PP leader Pablo Casado.

Inés Arrimadas, leader of the Catalan branch of Ciudadanos, said it is “shameful” that Spanish legislation, unlike the law in other European countries, allows “a fugitive” like Puigdemont to run in elections.

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