The far-right extremists convicted of assaulting Blanquerna, the Catalan cultural centre in the Spanish capital, will be able to participate normally in the Madrid elections on May 4th. Not only because a Madrid court has suspended their entry into prison, despite having reached a final sentence. Also, because Madrid's Provincial Electoral Commission has endorsed the candidacy of two of them. They are Manuel Andrino, first on the list for the Spanish fascist party Falange Española y de las JONS, and Jesús Fernando Fernández Gil, number eight in the candidature of the same party.
In its ruling, the Madrid electoral board argues that "it is not proven either that the aforementioned gentlemen are serving a sentence of imprisonment due it being the final sentence or that they have been deprived of the right to vote by a final sentence". Thus, concludes the Madrid electoral arbitrator, "it is not appropriate to alter the proclaimed candidacy".
It was the legal association Drets, formed by a group of lawyers and jurists to defend Catalan society against repression, which filed a complaint with the electoral body for initially allowing the candidacy in Madrid's May 4th regional elections of two of the extermists convicted of assaulting the Blanquerna bookstore on Catalonia National Day, 2013. The association argued for their withdrawal from the Falange list, pointing out that the two candidates were ineligibile "for having been convicted under a final sentence to imprisonment". For this reason, they claimed, "the candidacy could not be proclaimed with these candidates" due to non-compliance with the Spanish electoral law.
On March 23rd, Manuel Andrino went to collect the order calling for him to voluntarily present himself to the Madrid court within 10 days to begin his sentence for the Blanquerna case, a requirement which was subsequently suspended due to the appeals for Constitutional Court protection and requests made for a pardon. The following day, March 24th, Andrino travelled to Barcelona, where he is being tried for another case, along with Pedro Pablo Peña, head of a second Spanish far-right party, Alianza Nacional. In that case, prosecutors are calling for three years' imprisonment for Andrino for inciting hatred in his speech on October 12th, 2013 on Barcelona's Montjuïc mountain, a common gathering place for Spanish neo-fascists on the Spanish national holiday on October 12th. That day the Falange leader called on supporters to "kill for Spain."
His chequered past stretches even further. In 2005 he was also convicted of swindling an elderly woman in order to acquire her home. Years ago he was also arrested for an alleged attempted murder of a police officer.
Nor is it the first election candidacy that Manuel Andrino has been part since the events of the Blanquerna bookstore in 2013. Apart from the Falange lists, a year after the assault, he stood for La España en Marcha, the unitary Spanish neo-fascist list in the European elections of 2014. Five more of his fellow Blanquerna assailants were also part of that candidature. They received almost 17,000 votes across the Spanish state, and fell well short of winning a seat.