The former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, whose push for regional independence plunged Spain into its worst political crisis for 40 years, has abandoned his attempt to return to office and is stepping aside in favour of a candidate who is currently in prison. Puigdemont used a 13-minute video shared on social media on Thursday night to confirm reports he was no longer seeking the presidency. He said that “with the greatest sadness” he had informed the speaker of the Catalan parliament that he was unable to retake the post and that an alternative candidate should be chosen.
He added that he had “provisionally” called off his candidacy and was instead proposing Jordi Sànchez, an MP in his Together for Catalonia (JxCat) party and the former leader of the influential grassroots Catalan National Assembly (ANC). “No one represents the values of JxCat better than him and he is a man of peace who is unjustly locked in a Spanish prison,” said Puigdemont.
In a move likely to be seen as the formation of a government in exile, Puigdemont said he was planning to set up a foundation abroad – the Council for the Republic – to promote Catalan independence. “I will not throw in the towel, I will not quit, I will not give up in the face of the illegitimate behaviour of those who lost at the ballot box or the capriciousness of those who are prepared to forfeit the rule of law and justice as the price for national unity,” he said.
“Madrid no longer has any excuse for continuing its occupation policy nor for carrying on ignoring our voice or imposing a colonial vision on our future.”