Catalonia′s Carles Puigdemont warns of ′repeat elections′ as top court blocks successor | News | DW | 09.03.2018
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Catalonia's Carles Puigdemont warns of 'repeat elections' as top court blocks successor

Self-exiled leader Puigdemont has blamed "the enormous irresponsibility of the state" for a political impasse in Catalonia. The Supreme Court has blocked the release of his possible successor, citing repeat offenses.

Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont on Friday said fresh elections could not be ruled out as the region's independence movement faces challenges in forming a new government.

"It is no tragedy if there are new elections, although it is not the priority and no one desires it," Puigdemont told Catalan nationalist newspaper El Punt Avui. Puigdemont has set up residence in Brussels after fleeing Spain following Catalonia's failed independence bid.

Read more: Catalan independence: What you need to know

Last week, Puigdemont withdrew his candidacy for president of Catalan's new parliament, naming Jordi Sanchez as the best candidate to lead in his absence.

However, the Spanish Supreme Court on Friday ruled that Sanchez, who has been jailed for his involvement in Catalonia's controversial independence referendum, will not be allowed to leave prison to attend a parliamentary session slated for Monday.

'Irresponsibility of the state'

The session was widely viewed as Catalan parliament's attempt to swear Sanchez in as its leader. But in a 26-page ruling, Spanish judge Pablo Llarena said the court's decision was based on the belief that Sanchez might repeat criminal offenses, including sedition.

"If we have elections, it will be due to the enormous irresponsibility of the state, because they did not accept the results [of last year's snap elections]," said Puigdemont in the interview. "Since they do not like the outcome, they don't want parliament to pick its president … They are forcing things in such a way that maybe we should repeat elections."

Read more: Catalan independence: Challenges ahead for Puigdemont and secessionist political unity

Since December's regional election, Catalan's separatist parties have failed to agree on a government, effectively preventing them from further pursuing their independence agenda. Parties aligned with the separatist movement have an absolute majorityin the regional parliament.

A timeline showing the history of modern Catalonia

Independence in the air

Last year, the Catalan government orchestrated an independence referendum. The vote was deemed illegal by Spain's Supreme Court, saw just 40 percent voter turnout and was marred by police violence at some polling stations.

Read more: Is Catalan independence a second coup in democratic Spain?

In the wake of the election, Catalan lawmakers declared unilateral independence from Spain. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government responded by dissolving the regional parliament and calling snap elections.

According to an agreement seen by AFP news agency, Catalan separatists have proposed creating a parallel government in exile to "promote the internationalization of the cause of the independence of Catalonia" and "move towards the establishment of the Catalan Republic."

ls/sms (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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