Puidgdemont Wants to Remotely Control Catalonia
Spain's prime minister warned on Monday that Madrid would continue unpopular direct control over Catalonia if former regional leader Carles Puigdemont tried to rule again from exile in Belgium.
In a conversation with party members in Madrid, Mariano Rajoy said Puigdemont "must be physically present" in Catalonia to take office, and if that does not happen, the central government will retain direct government after the Catalan leaders declared independence October.
Puigdemont is the preferred candidate in the separatist camp to lead Catalonia again after independence parties won an absolute majority in the December regional elections.
But he is in self-imposed exile in Belgium and risks being arrested if he returns to Spain on charges of rebellion, incitement, and misuse of state funds for his role in the unsuccessful attempt to declare the region an independent state.
In order to be elected regional president, he must in theory attend the parliamentary session on which the vote takes place, but he wants to appear through a video or write a speech to be read by someone else.
If this is allowed, experts doubt, Puigdemont will officially take office while in Belgium and may try to lead the region remotely.
Direct governance from Madrid is very unpopular in Catalonia, as the region enjoys considerable autonomy before its leaders try to break away from Spain. This forced Prime Minister Rajoy to take direct control of the region, sack the government, dissolve the parliament, and declare the holding of early elections.
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