BRUSSELS – The ousted former president of Spain’s Catalonia region, Carles Puigdemont, said on Wednesday the results of a recent snap election there proved he had a mandate to be reinstated, but told a press conference in Brussels, where he is in self-imposed exile to avoid an arrest warrant, that he ideally wanted to be able to physically return in order to take on the role.
Puigdemont spoke to the press following a meeting with the current speaker of the Catalan parliament Roger Torrent, in which he was told that the investiture vote for the Catalan presidency would take place during a plenary on Jan. 30.
“We will try to do what the citizens want,” Puigdemont told reporters in the Belgian capital.
“That’s respecting the mandate of the Dec. 21 elections, the results of which have formed a parliament with a majority that proposes me as a candidate,” added the separatist figurehead, who is wanted in Spain for an investigation into charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds for his leading role in Catalonia’s annulled independence declaration.
Although the pro-union Citizens party won the Dec. 21 snap elections, three separatist parties, including Puigdemont’s Together For Catalonia, cobbled together a slim majority in the regional chamber and have since given unanimous backing to the bid to reinstate the former president.
Puigdemont said he would ideally like to be able to physically return to Catalonia in order to take on the presidency, but did not rule out alternative plans, such as ruling from afar.
The politician, who was ousted when the Spanish government invoked Article 155 of the Constitution to revoke the Oct. 27 Catalan independence declaration, has previously suggested he could govern through video technology, although Spanish officials have cast doubt on this.
The arrest warrant in Spain means he would be immediately arrested if he set foot on Spanish soil.
His meeting with Torrent had initially been scheduled to take place at the Catalan government’s Brussels office, but the Spanish government, using the powers it assumed with Article 155, moved to thwart that plan early Wednesday.