In a European Parliament debate called to take stock of its 2019 elections and the progress of recent electoral reforms, Catalan MEP Carles Puigdemont has reflected on a fact that shows the European electoral reality is less than perfect: that one of the MEPs who was validly elected by European citizens last May, Catalan pro-independence politician Oriol Junqueras, was never allowed to take up his post due to the decisions of the Spanish electoral commission, and was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment in October, for taking part in the organization of the Catalan independence referendum of 2017. “It’s shameful,” he denounced.
Puigdemont, who as Catalan president in 2017 stood alongside Junqueras, vice president in his government, recalled that Spain's Central Electoral Commission tried to prevent both him and Oriol Junqueras from being part of the European electoral lists, before backing down after a legal battle, but then, once the pair were elected, blocked their access to the European chamber for six months.
However, as Puigdemont noted, in the case of Oriol Junqueras the outcome was much graver because the ERC party leader is still in prison, sentenced to 13 years for sedition, despite being elected as an MEP. "This did not matter to the Spanish Supreme Court, nor did his parliamentary immunity as an elected MEP. They violated the rights of MEPs," he said.
Puigdemont asserted that all MEPs should defend Junqueras; and called for a European electoral authority that would not depend on the whims of different states, as well as a new electoral law.