Press TV, Barcelona
It is pre-election period in Catalonia and politicians are sparing no effort to attract new voters. Former, self-exiled president Carles Puigdemont has turned himself into a hologram to announce the launch of a new political party that aims to embrace all the separatists in Catalonia and lead the pro-independence movement.
Puigdemont’s new party, branded National Call for the Republic, is backed by various public figures, politicians, and civil society leaders, some of whom are still serving jail terms for their role in a 2017 referendum on independence.
Puigdemont’s reshuffle of political structure in Catalonia has triggered many grievances, starting with his own liberal camp, the Catalan European Democratic Party, or PDeCat, whose leaders are reluctant to merge on his terms.
Puigdemont’s decision also comes amid rifts between pro-independence groups in Catalonia. Puigdemont has accused former vice-president Oriol Junqueras of being disloyal. Many believe Puigdemont’s move is aimed at weakening his opponent.
Junqueras, however, has rejected Puigdemont’s decision to build a new political group, arguing that he is the one who is paying the price for the 2017 independence move.
The ongoing divisions between the two separatist blocs that still lead the regional government in Catalonia has pushed the sitting president, Quim Torra, an ally of Puigdemont’s, to announce a snap election in January. It has since been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Carles Puigdemont may be a thousand kilometers away from home in self-imposed exile, but his clout continues in Catalan politics. His latest maneuvering to unite the separatists across party lines is a stroke of political shrewdness that may undermine the tattered strategy of dialog led by Junqueras from jail.
But for him to lead, he has to win over skeptics in his own camp, and he has yet to face up to the Spanish State.