The Puigdemont factor

3 min
The Puigdemont factor

Carles Puigdemont is the main factor in the destabilisation of the Spanish state. He knows it and he is more than capable of bursting into the political game that is being played in Catalonia and Spain, turning it upside down. Puigdemont has the legitimacy of representing more than a million Catalan voters and his title of president of the Generalitat means that, despite not being in office, his representativeness goes beyond the borders of his party. The former president also knows that his visibility depends not only on his personal future and that of JxCat but also the proof of the usefulness of his strategy - that of the internationalisation of the conflict that led him to exile.

Today, Puigdemont, the Euro MP and the former Catalan president, has once again demonstrated that he is the main asset of Catalan independence in the international sphere and that his situation is capable of activating diplomacy and the police wherever he appears to give the Supreme Court and Judge Llarena a hard time, but also the judicial and political authorities of the EU, the Spanish government and the Catalan government for different reasons.

Procedural bad faith

The arrest and release in Alghero proves once again that Puigdemont is the burden of Spanish justice and of the sectors of Spanish nationalism (from Vox to the PSOE) that Thursday night salivated at the idea of his extradition and imprisonment in Spain. But their expectations of revenge have not been fulfilled. Those who are willing to continue eroding the image and credibility of Spanish justice, who expose the politicisation and lack of procedural good faith of the Supreme Court by directly challenging the Luxembourg Court, have once again suffered a setback in record time, this time by the Italian judiciary. And that makes four European countries - Belgium, the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy - that have left Llarena exposed for his legal methods that do not guarantee the rule of law.

The discussion is honestly open among jurists about the activation of the Euro-orders and the suspicious action of the Supreme Court, but the facts are that the German and Belgian judges have denied several extradition requests and now it is the Italians who are placed in the hands of the preliminary questions still unresolved by the CJEU.

When Judge Llarena maintained the order against Puigdemont he was not acting in good faith in the judicial sphere but moved by his political motivation. He acted with a kind of insubordination underestimating that the CJEU on July 30 last refused to issue precautionary measures against the suspension of the immunity of the former president of the Generalitat foreseeing that "nothing suggests that the Belgian judicial authorities or those of any other member state could execute the European arrest warrants issued against the applicants and hand them over to the Spanish authorities", and offered a last safeguard clause for the exiles: "File a new request for precautionary measures". The CJEU had biased information about Spanish judicial intentions.

Llarena is a relevant actor among those who want to prevent attempts at dialogue and to bring the conflict into the political arena from prospering. Willful annihilators of bridges who would like the victory of the PP and Vox they dream of to end the conflict in Catalonia, without bearing in mind that the great manufacturer of the Catalan independence movement was the absolute majority of José María Aznar and the repression of Rajoy on October 1.

Political consequences

The short detention of Carles Puigdemont reminds anyone who needs it that there will be no stable political progress without taking him and the rest of the exiles into account. The dialogue table could blow up because it requires a huge dose of goodwill and a great deal of conviction that dialogue is the political method par excellence. Puigdemont's extradition would be a litmus test for the Spanish and Catalan governments. Objectively, dialogue has to overcome a Spanish government interested in narcotising the Catalan issue and a divided Catalan government that always manages to find the mortar in extremis in response to the State's judicial and political actions.

For many puigdemontistas, the affair in Alghero shows that JxCat is full of reasons to continue outside the dialogue table. Not to believe. But there are also relevant Junts politicians who privately wonder whether it is more effective to defend the referendum and the exiles from outside the negotiating table than from within, whether one has good information about what is happening without being present, whether one can put pressure on Sánchez and UP without being a demanding interlocutor. The same interlocutors admit that between ERC and JxCat there is a struggle for hegemony within sovereignism that leaves independence in the background. There is still too much distance between gesticulation and politics in Catalonia.