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Exiled Catalan president Carles Puigdemont will be a candidate in the elections to the European Parliament that will be held across the continent on May 26th. Puigdemont will be the number one candidate of the JxCat (Together for Catalonia) political group for the European chamber and will thus once again compete directly with the man who was vice president of his Catalan executive until 2017: Oriol Junqueras, leader of ERC (Catalan Republican Left), who is also standing in the May elections for his political group.

The surprise announcement of Puigdemont's candidature was made at a Sunday morning press conference by fellow JxCat member and current Catalan government minister Elsa Artadi, after an urgent meeting of the group. "The best way to continue to internationalize the Catalan conflict and for us to be heard in Europe, for the repression to be made visible, is to have a JxCat voice that is free to speak in Europe, and that voice can be none other than Puigdemont's," Artadi asserted.

Carles Puigdemont was the Catalan president whose government held the October 1st, 2017 independence referendum and who was then sacked by Mariano Rajoy, as Spanish authorities imposed direct rule over Catalonia. He currently lives in Waterloo, Belgium and, although sought by Spanish authorities within Spain, is a free man in Europe after attempts at extradition on a rebellion charge were rejected by European justice last year and then withdrawn by Spain.

Puigdemont will take over the role currently occupied by Ramon Tremosa, as the leader of the JxCat space in the European Parliament. Tremosa is to shift to the party's list for the Spanish Congress, where he will occupy the fourth place for the Barcelona constituency. In a message on social media, Puigdemont stated that it was "time to take one more step to internationalize Catalonia's right to self-determination from the heart of Europe for the whole world."

Even though the president currently lives in Belgium, party sources say he can stand for election, as he has Spanish nationality. However, if elected, he would have to collect his certificate of election as an MEP from the Spanish embassy, where he could be arrested.