A day after the Spanish Supreme Court confirmed the long sentences of disqualification from holding public office faced by Oriol Junqueras and three other Catalan pro-independence leaders, and supported the position of its investigating judge, Pablo Llarena, with the politicians from Catalonia who are in exile abroad, the far-right party Vox has shaken the Congress of Deputies again with two proposals that are born without any guarantee of success. On the one hand, the extreme right proposes a modification of the electoral law so that "fugitives from justice" cannot stand in the elections, that is to say, so that they do not have the right to be elected at the ballot box. On the other hand, they call for the act of holding "an illegal referendum" to be prosecuted in the Spanish Penal Code as a crime. The two initiatives were welcomed by the other parties of the Spanish right - the People's Party (PP) and Ciudadanos (Cs) - although both introduced nuances into their positions.
To begin with, though, the general secretary of Vox and deputy in the Spanish lower house, Javier Ortega Smith, held up a photomontage showing Carles Puigdemont behind the bars of a prison, asserting that it was "the only electoral poster that can be acceptable under a rule of law". For Ortega Smith, "there is nothing less democratic than trying to compete on equal terms with the rest of the possible candidates when you are a fugitive from justice, when you are disdaining the law to which you are obliged to submit".
Proud to be the obsession of the VOX fascist party. Today in the Spanish Parliament they exhibited a photo of me simulating my imprisonment.— krls.eth / Carles Puigdemont (@KRLS) February 14, 2023
This shameful political persecution should not be tolerated by either the @EP_President or the Spanish one, @meritxell_batet. pic.twitter.com/AvXfEOAqz7
In a tweet written in English this Tuesday, the former Catalan president stated that he was "proud to be the obsession of the VOX fascist party", while also warning that this "shameful political persecution should not be tolerated" by either the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, nor the speaker of the Spanish Congress, Meritxell Batet. "If there are politicians who attack you for your ideas and political decisions; if these politicians are part of the popular accusation to condemn you; if they use your person for a political debate, and if they want you to stop doing politics... it's political persecution," summarized Puigdemont.
Most stand apart from it; independence laughs at it
In the parliamentary session in Madrid, the rest of the pro-independence forces were also harshly critical of the ultra-right's proposal. Catalan Republican Left (ERC) spokesperson Gabriel Rufián recalled from the podium that Ortega Smith is wanted by the judicial authorities of Gibraltar. They have been looking for him since 2014 for the alleged theft of a large concrete block located in an artificial breakwater in Gibraltarian waters and which the far right party exhibits as a kind of battle trophy. Rufián has said that Ortega Smith is wanted "for the frikada of the breakwater and not respecting the sovereignty of Gibraltar" and, upon returning to his seat, he handed the justice document to the Vox MP. "We take them less and less seriously" commented Rufián. Slightly more seriously, CUP deputy Albert Botran scoffed at VOX's proposal and clarifed that Puigdemont and the other Catalan pro-independence exiles are not "fugitives from justice" because "they have always appeared before the judges" in the different countries in which they live or have visited: Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Italy and Switzerland.