(FILES) This file photo taken on October 31, 2017 shows dismissed Catalonia’s leader Carles Puigdemont arriving to address media representatives at The Press Club in Brussels. The separatist party of deposed Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, against whom Spain has launched an arrest warrant, said today they wanted him as candidate for regional elections on December 21. / AFP PHOTO / NICOLAS MAETERLINCK
The separatist party of deposed Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who is facing an arrest warrant issued by Spain, said Sunday that they wanted him as candidate for regional elections on December 21.
“We want president Puigdemont to be the person who leads the big offensive we will carry out on the 21st at the polls,” PDeCAT spokeswoman Marta Pascal told party members.
She said the conservative, pro-independence party was looking to put together a “big united list,” a day after Puigdemont himself called for separatists to unite in the election called by Spain to quell the region’s push for independence.
The 54-year-old has been in Belgium since Monday and ignored a summons to appear before a judge in Madrid, saying he wants guarantees he will receive a fair trial.
The judge issued the European arrest warrants late Friday for Puigdemont and four of his allies who are also in Belgium, to force them to return to Spain.
During the last regional election in September 2015, Puigdemont’s PDeCat and the leftwing ERC party stood together in a “Together for Yes” coalition.
With the help of the separatist, far-left CUP party, they held an absolute majority in the Catalan parliament, which has since been dissolved after it declared independence last month.
But there have been growing tensions between the two allies over strategy and it is not clear if they will stand together again.
ERC leader Oriol Junqueras has been in custody since Thursday, when a judge detained him and other deposed members of Puigdemont’s government who did not flee to Belgium over their role in the independence drive.
Opinion polls published in several newspapers Sunday indicated that the ERC would come first in the December elections, but that the independence coalition as a whole could lose its absolute majority.
Puigdemont’s party, meanwhile, would come fourth, the surveys suggest.