It was an open secret that did not require much corroboration, but Carles Puigdemont wanted to make it official this Thursday: he is running in the Catalan elections on May 12 as a candidate for the presidency of the Generalitat. His objective is to achieve his “restitution” as president, the Junts leader said at a conference in Elna (France) in which mentions of his dismissal as president by 155 in 2017 after the unilateral declaration of independence have been constant.

Puigdemont wanted to make it clear that he is going all out on 12-M with another announcement: his resignation from leading the Junts candidacy for the European elections on May 9, which leaves him without the shield of European immunity. “I could not explain to myself that after six years he will not seek the restitution of the presidency illegally removed by 155 for reasons of convenience,” he stated.

For the first time, furthermore, Puigdemont has given clues about his future plans, which are linked to the electoral interests of Junts. The former president has announced that he will return to Catalonia if he has a majority to be inaugurated even if he is not amnestied, so, unless the script changes, Puigdemont will once again carry out the entire campaign from Waterloo (Belgium).

This repeats the “for the president to return, you have to vote for the president”, Junts’ motto in the 2017 Catalan elections, after which Puigdemont failed to be sworn in remotely and ruled out returning to Spain because he would have been arrested. In 2024, the first investiture debate must be held no later than June 21, after which the two-month period will open to invest a president and avoid an electoral repetition.

The amnesty law is as possible as the self-determination referendum

The former president’s announcement was made, as usual, through an appearance without accepting questions from the media. Puigdemont has not given a press conference since last July, and the only questions that he has answered briefly in recent days are those that, standing point-blank, journalists ask him in the corridors of the European Parliament.

The former president already occupied first place on the Junts lists in the Parliamentary elections in 2017 and 2021. Despite giving the same message of “restitution” as now and promising his return in 2017 if the Catalans voted for him, he did not return due to his judicial situation, since if he sets foot in Spain he will be arrested. This time, according to Puigdemont, he is different, because he can now “work without the threat of repression” thanks to the amnesty.

There are no two without three, but this time there is an amnesty that, on paper, guarantees Puigdemont a safe return without going to jail. At least that marks the norm (pending final approval at the end of May, after the Catalan campaign).

With his announcement this Thursday, the leader of Junts outlines what he wants to be the main axis of his campaign: his return to Spain not only as a free and amnestied citizen but as president to complete independence. “The amnesty law is as possible as the self-determination referendum,” Puigdemont maintained.

Although he has prioritized the negotiation with the Government, Puigdemont has insisted that Junts has a return to the unilateral route in its portfolio: “If we see delays in the negotiation, we will not give up on achieving full independence, if it is the will of the Catalans.” .

Its objective is to try to reconnect with demobilized pro-independence bases and stay ahead of ERC, in a context of more partisan fragmentation on the side of the pro-independence right (at 12-M the party of MEP Clara Ponsatí, very critical of Junts, will appear ). Another clue to the presidential campaign that Junts is preparing for 12-M was on the stage of the Elna City Hall where Puigdemont gave his conference this Thursday: not a reference to the party’s acronym and a single slogan, “President Carles Puigdemont.”

The Puigdemont pole will rival the framework that the PSC wants to establish for 12-M: turning the page on the process with Salvador Illa, who leads the polls, as president and focusing the debate on public services and management. In the middle will be ERC, which with Pere Aragonès wants to claim its first presidency without forgetting the negotiation with the Government on a new financing model and a referendum.

“I am willing to negotiate, as I was in October 2017

The former president has given the starting signal to the pre-campaign, placing voters in a dilemma facing the next 12-M. According to Puigdemont, Catalans will have to choose between parties that seek to “sink the nation” or those that want to “finish the job so that Catalonia is recognized in the concert of independent nations of the world.” No middle ground.

Despite asking for a unitary list, he has admitted that it is a difficult objective and has had no problems attacking ERC’s strategy, claiming the achievements of Junts in the negotiation with the PSOE, especially the negotiation with an international mediator in front of the table. of dialogue agreed upon by the Generalitat de Aragonès and La Moncloa. “I don’t know how many times the dialogue table has met, I do know how many times we have met in Switzerland,” he said.

Puigdemont has also taken advantage of other pacts with the PSOE, such as the official status – pending approval – of Catalan in Europe. “I would never have believed the conviction with which Minister Albares defends Catalan,” he stated. “We want to negotiate, and we are very far away, but democracy consists of the agreement between those who agree,” he claimed in the most pactist section of his speech.

“I am willing to negotiate, as I was in October 2017,” added Puigdemont, who has celebrated the PSOE’s willingness to negotiate in the face of its “cowardice”, which has disfigured, in the critical phase of the process, in which according to The former president, the socialists, together with the PP, left the response to the sovereignty process in the hands of the judges. “Today I begin the countdown to the return,” he concluded.


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