Puigdemont 'Unlikely to Be Running' Catalonia From Belgium - Scholar

© AP Photo / Virginia MayoOusted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, center, stands with elected Catalan lawmakers of his Together for Catalonia party at a park in Brussels
Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, center, stands with elected Catalan lawmakers of his Together for Catalonia party at a park in Brussels - Sputnik International
A bid to reinforce the European Arrest Warrant for Carles Puigdemont has been denied by the Supreme Court, after the former president of Catalonia flew to Denmark for a conference. To determine why, Sputnik spoke to Dr Guillem Colom-Montero, a lecturer in Hispanic Studies at the University of Exeter.

Sputnik: What would a renewed arrest warrant mean for Mr. Puigdemont? Would Denmark be likely to arrest him?

Dr Guillem Colom-Montero: The Spanish Supreme Court has declined to launch the arrest warrant. They have claimed that they don't want to interfere into the parliamentary process in Catalonia. Why? Well, today we have had two pieces of news: The first is Puigdemonts' trip to Denmark, to participate in this lecture in Copenhagen, and secondly, the president of the Catalan parliament has nominated Puigdemont to be voted as the president of the Catalan government.

READ MORE: Spanish Court Reportedly Rejects Attempt to Remotely Arrest Puigdemont

Now, if Puigdemont had been arrested today in Denmark, his situation would have changed. We have two different situations with those members of the Catalan parliament unable to attend the meetings of the parliament. Those who are jailed in Spain, according to the Constitutional court judge, can allocate their vote to another member of parliament. The others, who are in Belgium (four members of the Catalan government and Puigdemont), cannot vote through another member of parliament.

Therefore, if Puigdemont had been arrested in Denmark today, the same procedure could have been followed, he could have allotted his vote to somebody else — but the judge has decided not to intervene into the process. That's of course the official explanation, but I would also say that the Spanish Supreme Court was very wary of issuing the new order only to have it rejected or demoted again. That would have been another problem for the Spanish Courts.

Sputnik: What do think would happen if Puigdemont is sworn in as president? Would he rule from a far? What conflicts would this create?

Dr Guillem Colom-Montero: It is difficult to know at the moment. I think that it's very unlikely that he could be running the region from Belgium. I think it's pretty much out of the question. The point is that Puigdemont has become a symbol. The reason why he is so relevant is because he has been tainted by the Spanish Unionist parties, the Spanish government, and also the Spanish King, who will have to sign him as president of the Catalan government if he's voted in by the Catalan Parliament. Therefore, the pro-independence parties (who still challenge the legitimacy's of the elections held in December), are using Puigdemont as a symbol that things don't have to change as a result of these elections.

READ MORE: Puigdemont Nominated as Catalan Presidential Candidate

Initially, Puigdemont had said that if he was appointed president then he would return to Spain, and would therefore be arrested as the President of the Catalan autonomy, which is a completely different situation from the one that he's in now. I think that's more likely to happen, but it's difficult to know for sure. In one of his last interviews, Puigdemont actually claimed that he wanted to govern Catalonia from Brussels, through technology and media. I don't think that makes that much sense, and I think it's quite unlikely to happen.

Sputnik: The fact that he could potentially become president again, is this transporting Catalonia back into the past, where in the end they became a bit stuck? Wouldn't it be more helpful to move forward?

Dr Guillem Colom-Montero: In the end, if Puigdemont is selected as President, and he is eventually arrested, then what is the point of all of this? The reason why this is happening is because Puigdemont has been turned into a symbol, but it is possible, in due course, for pro-independence parties to unveil the lack of democracy of the Spanish State once again. And after that, I suppose they will appoint a new person, and we should see what they do next. The pro-independence camp seems to be assuming that they have not achieved a full social majority to move forward and to apply and implement independence. Therefore it remains to be seen what they are going to do. They might take this next four years as a time to build a new majority, and to enter into negotiations with the Spanish Government. But it is very difficult to see Puigdemont effecting some deep change in the relations between Catalonia and Spain.

The views and opinions expressed in the article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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