The new residence of Puigdemont

by Lorraine Williamson
Carles Puigdemont

Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who has been living in exile in Belgium since 2017, intends to run for candidacy again in the Catalan elections on May 12th. Puigdemont is a fervent advocate of Catalan independence.

The Catalan separatist Carles Puigdemont has left Belgium after almost seven years. The former leader of Catalonia lived there in exile to escape Spanish justice following the failed attempt to declare the autonomous region independent. According to Spanish media, Puigdemont has moved to a location in Southern France, 8 kilometres from the Spanish border. Moreover, he intends to participate again in the Catalan elections.

Puigdemont faces the risk of arrest

Puigdemont’s potential return to Spain depends on the approval of the new amnesty law. As long as that approval is not established, the Catalan risks being arrested if he sets foot on Spanish territory. Nevertheless, the leader of the independence movement has settled near the Spanish border in France. Two weeks ago, Puigdemont announced his intention to participate again in the regional elections for his party Junts. He assured that he would return to Spain if he had a chance to be elected as president of Catalonia. The former leader of the autonomous region will campaign from his new place of residence.

Cogesa Expats

Early elections in Catalonia on May 12th

This is the third time Puigdemont is running for Catalan elections since fleeing to Belgium. The previous two times, he was not installed in the Catalan cabinet because he would have been arrested. Last month, the current Catalan president, the moderate independence advocate Pere Aragonès, surprised everyone by calling for early elections in the north-eastern region of Spain. The decision was announced on the eve of the approval of the amnesty law by Spanish parliamentarians. The amnesty law is currently going through a complex process in the Senate. Final approval for the law is expected within about two months. If approved, the way will be clear for Puigdemont to return to Spain and engage in Catalan politics.

Is the Catalan independence movement reigniting?

Currently, there is a national arrest warrant against the former Catalan president. Puigdemont was appointed president in 2016 and led an attempt to separate Catalonia from Spain. It was one of the worst political crises in contemporary Spain. After the failed unilateral declaration of independence, he fled to Belgium. He was elected as a Member of the European Parliament in the last European elections.

Puigdemont’s intention to return to Catalan politics is causing quite a stir among his opponents. The Catalan independence movement still generates a lot of division among Catalans. The question is whether that struggle will flare up again in full force. For now, the focus is on the approval of the amnesty law.

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