Puigdemont says polls must 'ratify' Catalonia's desire for independence

2017-11-25 17:06
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont. (Manu Fernandez, AP)

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont. (Manu Fernandez, AP)

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Oostkamp - Catalonia's deposed leader Carles Puigdemont on Saturday launched his campaign for regional elections by calling on Catalans to make known their desire for independence.

"We Catalans demonstrated to the world that we have the capacity and the will to become an independent state. And on (December) 21, we must ratify this," he said in Belgium, where he travelled after the Catalan parliament declared unilateral independence.

Puigdemont was sacked as Catalan president after that declaration on October 27 as was his entire regional government.

Civil society

Madrid imposed direct rule on the once semi-autonomous region to stop the independence drive.

At the time, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy also dissolved the Catalan parliament and called next month's elections in a bid to "restore normality" to the region.

Puigdemont, who is awaiting possible extradition to Spain where he is wanted on charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds, is running at the head of the Junts per Catalunya ("All for Catalonia" in Catalan) grouping.

It comprises people from his conservative, separatist PDeCAT party as well as members of civil society.

Puigdemont had hoped to form a united separatist front for the new elections, as was the case in the region's last elections in 2015, when the pro-independence camp secured a majority of 72 seats in the 135-seat parliament, even though it won just 47.8% of the vote.

Joint ticket

But ERC - the party of his former vice-president Oriol Junqueras, who stayed in Spain and was remanded in custody by a judge investigating him and other former regional ministers on the same charges as Puigdemont - rejected a joint ticket.

Opinion polls suggest that ERC is leading in the current campaign, which officially opens on December 5.

And they predict that separatist parties and those for unity with Spain will be neck and neck.

"This moment transcends political parties," Puigdemont said in Oostkamp.

"It's time for us to be activists for Catalonia, which is what people want".


Read more on:    mariano rajoy  |  carles puigdemont  |  spain  |  elections

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