11 Jun, 2024 @ 12:00
2 mins read

Could Carles Puigdemont return as President of Catalunya? Pro-independence parties pave the way by uniting against Socialists in vote for parliamentary speaker – in blow for PM Pedro Sanchez

The controversial amnesty law also came into force today

CARLES Puigdemont took another step towards returning as President of Catalunya six-and-a-half years since he was removed from office and fled overseas after pro-independence parties united on Monday to elect a separatist ally as the region’s parliamentary speaker.

Junts, the party of which Puigdemont is leader, the Republic Left of Catalunya (ERC) and Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) finalised a deal minutes before the first session of the region’s new parliament to elect Josep Rull, a former Catalan territory minister who spent over three years in Spanish prison for his role in the 2017 illegal, unilateral declaration of independence, as President of the Parliament of Catalunya.

Rull, 55, was elected with 59 votes, defeating the Socialist candidate Silvia Paneque, who received just 42 votes.

The vote ensures that Catalunya’s parliament will be led by a pro-independence figure even though the Catalan branch of Pedro Sanchez’s ruling PSOE socialists won the most votes in last month’s regional election.

In his speech, Rull said: “No MP should be prosecuted for expressing their opinion or using their right to vote. This bureau will insist that this right be strongly protected”. 

READ MORE: Catalunya elections: Separatists lose majority as pro-unity Socialists win most votes in blow for independence movement

Josep Rull, Catalunya’s new parliamentary speaker, spent three years in prison for his role in the independence crisis. Credit: Cordon Press

Rull was jailed for three years over his role in the independence push, but he was pardoned by the Spanish government in 2021 and from 2022 onwards was once again able to hold public office. 

As parliamentary speaker, Rull will have the executive authority to invite one of Puigdemont or Salvador Illa, the Socialist leader, to form an investiture and, in turn, appoint a President after a ten-day round of consultations with parliamentary members. 

It is widely expected that Rull will appoint his ally Puigdemont as a candidate in an investiture plenary session scheduled for June 25 in a boost for the fugitive’s hopes of reaching the presidency.

The controversial leader, who spearheaded Catalunya’s illegal independence referendum in 2017, hopes to continue to rely on the votes of the pro-independence ERC and CUP, constituting 59 MPs, in comparison to the 48 who belong to the Socialists and their left-wing allies.

Pro-independence parties also managed to gain a majority on the Board of the Parliament of Catalunya which is responsible for the management of the regional parliament.

Junts and ERC have two seats each on the seven-seat bureau, representing a majority over the three seats held by the pro-unity Socialists. 

The appointment of Catalunya’s parliamentary speaker came on the same day that Pedro Sanchez’s controversial amnesty law for Catalan separatists officially came into law. Credit: Cordon Press

The election for the Board of the Parliament of Catalunya was embroiled in controversy after the votes of fugitive MPs Puigdemont and Lluis Puig were counted despite a directive from Spain’s Constitutional Court last week annulling the right for MPs to vote online.

The Partido Popular (PP) and Vox have announced they will take legal action in response to the ballot as discounting the votes of the separatist fugitives would see the number MPs representing the pro-independence bloc fall to the same number of Socialist and PP MPs combined.

In a further blow to the pro-unity parties, Rull’s appointment came on the same day that the bitterly controversial and unpopular amnesty law was formally passed.

The law, which grants pardons to leading figures involved in the independence push, including Puigdemont, was part of a deal between Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Catalan separatist parties in exchange for their support to prop up his investiture and allow the PSOE leader to win a new term as Spain’s PM.

However, experts are unsure whether the new legislation will allow Puigdemont to return to Spain immediately.

Previous Story

Mark Zuckerberg docks his €278m super yacht in a major tourist resort in Spain

Morrissey Screernshot
Next Story

Former Kinahan mafia ‘financier’ Johnny ‘Cash’ Morrissey released from Spanish prison after paying €60,000 bail

Latest from Catalunya

Go toTop

More From The Olive Press