Acting Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, has this evening called on the countries of the EU to contribute to ensuring the democratic result of the 21st December election is respected and to allowing the Catalan government return to normality. Puigdemont made the comments during a videoconference with Montpellier (France), specifying that he made the request "as president of Catalonia and as a citizen of Europe". "I hope for a respect for democracy from all European countries," he said.
He presented a democratic claim. "I want to return safely and with all legitimacy to Catalonia as the president elected by a Parliament, which is a Parliament that comes directly from the will of the people. That isn't currently possible because there's a threat to prevent me from being able to be president," he said.
The president said that even France has a more democratic position than Spain on such questions, because it has opened dialogue with the government of Corsica after the island's election gave victory to independence supporters. "Spain should learn the lesson. They deal with the topic by talking," he said.
The president reminded the French audience that vice-president Oriol Junqueras, the acting Interior minister Joaquim Forn and two civil society leaders, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, are in prison, that almost half the Catalan government is in exile in Brussels and that the Spanish executive interrupted the Catalan legislature with article 155 of the Constitution and called an election. "Our self-government has been eliminated, more than 700 mayors are pursued, today in Spain there are political prisoners and elected officials threatened with arrest", he said, summarising the exceptional circumstances. Asking rhetorically why this situation came about, he said: "because we've fulfiled an electoral manifesto".
Puigdemont asked why the Spanish government has avoided all political negotiation and, instead, has taken refuge in the courts to fight the Catalans' requests, attributing it to low quality of democracy in Spain. "In Spain you can still note the shadow of Francoism", he said, describing the Constitution as far from having been the fruit "of an exemplary transition process", as the official story proclaims.
The president strongly criticised the way the powers-that-be in Spain acted during the Catalan election and accused "the apparatus of state" of having acted in favour of pro-union parties, whilst the majority of the media "didn't respect plurality". Directly addressing Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, and taking into account the victory of the pro-independence side, he couldn't refrain from asking whether he will respect the result of the 21st December and allow the new Catalan government the Parliament chooses. "Today in Spain there are political prisoners and elected officials threatened with arrest," he told the audience.
The event was also attended by Junts per Catalunya deputy Laura Borràs, ERC deputy Anna Surra and CUP leader Mireia Boya. Boya greeted Puigdemont, repeating his hope that he can return to Catalonia soon.