Spanish centre-right parties Ciudadanos and PP have both filed appeals with Spain's Central Electoral Commission to try and block Catalan president in exile Carles Puigdemont and former ministers Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí from standing as candidates in this May's European election.
PP claim that the three do not meet the eligibility requirements to stand as MEPs because they can't fully exercise their rights having "fled from Spain". They ask that they be excluded as candidates and removed from their respective town registers. Cs' argument is similar.
Puigdemont's party, JxCat, was informed of the appeals today to be able to file a response. They have said that the former president "has his political rights intact, as shown by the fact that he could stand" in the 2017 Catalan snap election called by Madrid, after he had already gone to Belgium. They note he's also properly down on the electoral roll. "JxCat believes this manoeuvre by Cs and PP demonstrates that the president will be able to collect his accreditation as an MEP and, as such, the objective is to avoid him being able to stand," they say.
In their filing presented to the Commission, PP says that it's "public knowledge and well known" that Puigdemont, Coín and Ponsatí "fled from Spain" and failed to appear in legal proceedings. They note that Spanish electoral law establishes that any Spanish adult can stand for election as long as they are a registered voter and are not ineligible for any reason.
The party argues that Puigdemont's doesn't enjoy the "full use" of his political rights, demonstrated by the Constitutional Court suspending the motion in the Catalan Parliament a year ago which proposed reinvesting him as president.
For their part, Cs also insist that Puigdemont, Comín and Ponsatí were declared as having failed to appear for legal proceedings and "don't meet the criteria of eligible citizens", as they interpret the law.
Albert Rivera's party notes that all three are out of Spain to "avoid their duty to collaborate with the justice system" which would require them to register on the census of absent residents to be able to vote. Nonetheless, they all appear on the census of people resident in Spain. As such, they argue they cannot vote and, according to Spanish election law, they believe this means they are not "in a situation to be electable".