Spain’s Electoral Authority (JEC) has banned Carles Puigdemont, the pro-secessionist former president of Spain’s Catalonia region, from running as an MEP in the upcoming European elections.
Puigdemont intended to run as a candidate in the European Parliament elections for the Together for Catalonia platform, but the electoral board accepted a petition from the conservative People’s Party and centre-right Ciudadanos party that the candidacy of Puigdemont and two other Catalan separatist politicians, the region’s former education minister Clara Ponsatí and ex-health minister Toni Comín, were invalid as the three are fugitives and are wanted by Spanish law enforcement agents for having held an illegal secessionist referendum in October 2017.
The news came shortly before the Canadian government blocked a visit by Puigdemont to Canada’s French-speaking province of Quebec where he was supposed to speak to his counterparts in the left-wing Quebec separatist movement.
Puigdemont was due to fly from Brussels – where he has been in self-imposed exile since late 2017 when he was first brought up on charges of sedition by the Spanish government – to Montreal. The Canadian government, however, revoked Puigdemont’s electronic travel authorisation due to his status as a fugitive on-the-run.
Puigdemont was president of Catalonia for less than two years, having served from January 2016 to October 2017. His flight to Belgium following the failed attempt to push through his internationally unrecognised referendum angered many of Puigdemont’s Catalan nationalist supporters who believed he should have remained in Spain with his colleagues to face the consequences of his actions.