Spain’s Electoral Board prevents Puigdemont, Ponsatí, and Comín from running in European elections

The Spanish Central Electoral Board (JEC) has decided to exclude former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and ex-ministers Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí from the candidate list for the European elections. It has thus ruled in favor of the appeals filed by Ciudadanos and the PP, who opposed the candidacy of the former head of the Catalan government because the three exiles are not registered in the census of foreign residents and have “fled”, in their opinion, from Spanish justice. The JEC concluded that it partially agreed with these petitions and proceeded to leave the three candidates out of the proclamation for the European elections. It also urged Puigdemont’s party to put forward other candidates in accordance with the gender equality quotas set by Spain’s electoral law, as the party’s slate minus the exiles does not comply. It was given until Monday at 6 pm to do so.

Puigdemont’s lawyer Gonzalo Boye has denounced this move through the social networks: “Given the triumph of pro-independence forces yesterday, the JEC has decided to exclude Puigdemont from the European lists to try to prevent another victory. This jeopardizes the viability of the European elections”.

In a statement signed jointly, Puigdemont, Comín, and Ponsatí said that the JEC “is aiming to prevent a candidacy that proposes to bring the voice of the Catalan self-determination referendum and the Catalan Republic to the parliamentary institution that represents all European citizens”, and they called it “a flagrant violation of the fundamental right of passive suffrage”. For that reason they warned that they will take all necessary legal actions at both Spanish and European levels to “defend the rights of the three candidates, and of voters to vote.” The former president and his ex-ministers insisted that they are not resigned to accepting “a resolution that contradicts Spanish and European legislation.”

Furthermore, they also interpreted the decision of the JEC as a “demonstration of connivance between a judicial system that should be independent and certain political interests.” According to knowledgeable sources, the decision of the JEC can be appealed before the administrative chamber of the Supreme Court within two days, and then the Constitutional Court. The appeal to the high court can be filed within two days after the Supreme Court’s ruling, and it will have three days to resolve it. All this before the election campaign kicks off.

In the event that the former president and ex-ministers are definitively excluded from the European elections, their party would have to replace them in the list of candidates.

Jordi Sànchez, the leader of the party in Madrid’s Congress and one of the Catalan political leaders who is in jail and whom the justice system is trying for the referendum on independence, reacted via Twitter by denouncing that former minister Lluís Puig (who is in exile), was allowed to run in last Sunday’s elections for the Senate whereas the JEC is not letting the other exiles in Europe run. “It is an example of the targeted persecution against President Puigdemont. It is a democratic embarrassment,” he wrote.

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