Spain rejected as absurd suggestions that Catalan separatist Carles Puigdemont could lead the region from exile if elected president by the new Catalan parliament, and said if he were chosen Madrid would maintain direct central rule. Puigdemont fled to Brussels in October after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fired him as Catalonia’s leader for declaring an independent republic following an illegal referendum. He faces arrest and possibly decades in jail if he returns to Spain. With only days before Catalonia’s parliament convenes to elect a new regional government, separatists said Puigdemont was their candidate to lead the region again. They are exploring the possibility he could do so by video link from Brussels.
But Rajoy, in a speech at his center-right People’s Party (PP) Madrid headquarters, derided the idea and the Catalan parliament’s own legal advisory body said it was not possible without changing the law.
“It’s absurd that someone aspires to be president of the Catalan regional government as a fugitive in Brussels – it’s a case of common sense,” Rajoy said