Carles Puigdemont declared ‘only candidate’ for president, as Spain fails to detain Catalan leader in Denmark 

Home / Carles Puigdemont declared ‘only candidate’ for president, as Spain fails to detain Catalan leader in Denmark 

Carles Puigdemont was officially proposed as the new Catalan president on Monday as Spanish authorities failed in a last ditch attempt to secure the detention of the fugitive leader during a risky trip to Denmark.

A fresh standoff now looms in the independence crisis after Roger Torrent, the new speaker of the Catalan parliament, defied warnings from Madrid to declare Mr Puigdemont “the only candidate” for the presidential inauguration due next week.

Requesting a meeting with Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, Mr Torrent said he was conscious of the difficulties surrounding Mr Puigdemont’s inauguration, but insisted on the “absolute legitimacy” of his return to power. 

The announcement drew an angry response from Catalan opposition parties, which demanded Mr Torrent reconsider his decision. 

Ines Arrimadas, the Catalan leader of Ciudadanos, said it could not accept the nomination of a president who was “a fugitive from justice”. 

Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, spokesman for the Spanish government, rebuffed the offer of dialogue, reiterating warnings that it would appeal any attempt at a long distance inauguration. 

Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont arrives at Copenhagen Airport with his teamCredit:

Earlier in the day, Spain’s attorney general had requested the reactivation of a European Arrest Warrant for Mr Puigdemont after he left his self-imposed exile in Belgium for the first time in 80 days to speak at a debate in Copenhagen. 

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But the Spanish Supreme Court rejected the petition, judging that Mr Puigdemont’s arrest could play into his hands. 

Judge Pablo Llarena noted that his detention could qualify him to participate in the parliament via a delegate, which is permitted in the case of incapacity and already granted for three jailed politicians back at home.

Mr Puigdemont was seeking to “provoke” his own detention in order to “force the context” in which he could delegate his vote, Mr Llarena said. 

Demanding Mr Rajoy respect the results of the 21 December election, he said it was time to “end the repression and seek a political solution”.

Mr Puigdemont once again called on the European Union to address the Catalan crisis, which he said was as crucial to the future of Europe as Brexit. 

He accused the EU of double standards in its treatment of different member states, suggesting that the "cover" given by the bloc to the Rajoy government was motivated by political alliances.

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