Spain’s exiled Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has demanded an amnesty and an end to all legal proceedings against Catalan separatists in exchange for his support for Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s bid to stay in the job.
During a press conference in Brussels, Puidgemont said the process should start “before” the election of a new premier.
The Belgium-based fugitive also demanded the Spanish Government “forgoes the use of the justice system” against the separatist movement. Puigdemont favours a political solution to the question of Catalonia’s territorial status.
He justified the need for an amnesty, saying “what happened in October of 2017 was not crime”. That was in reference to Puigdemont calling an secession referendum that year.
He added that the declaration of independence and the protests against the government’s “repression” did not violate Spanish law.
Puigdemont said that “there would be no constitutional impediment” to a secessionist referendum if agreed upon with the Spanish state.
The centre-right Partido Popular (PP) said Puigdemont’s demands “deny the very essence of democracy”.
Its leader, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, said he will not meet with Puigdemont’s Junts per Catalunya party. “If their condition is amnesty, our answer is no.”
On September 4, Sánchez’s acting Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Díaz met with Puigdemont in the European Parliament in Brussels.
Díaz said she and Puigdemont “will keep talking and looking for compromises within dialogue and democracy.
“Dialogue is a method and a commitment,” she added.
The president of the Judicial Affairs Committee of the European Parliament called Díaz’s trip a “secret” one. Spanish MEP Adrian Vázquez Lázara claimed she went to Brussels to “beg” for Puigdemont’s support.
Socialist Workers’ Party leader Sánchez had not yet reacted to Puigdemont’s demands.
He did say at a speech recently that “soon Spain will have a progressive government that delivers prosperity, stability and coexistence”.
So far, Díaz’s party Sumar has been leading the negotiations with the Catalan separatist groups, which Sánchez delegated to her to save face, observers say.
Reports suggest Sánchez cancelled his speech in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg to avoid a photo-opportunity with Puigdemont.
As president of the Catalonia region, Puigdemont fled to Waterloo, near Brussels, after his failed declaration of independence in 2017. He has lived there since.
In early July, the General Court of the European Union removed Puigdemont’s MEP immunity.