January 22, 2018
Carles Puigdemont's flying circus
Carles Puigdemont, the dismissed premier of the Catalan region, is risking arrest this morning by leaving Belgium on a flight to Denmark, where he was been invited to a debate on Catalonia at the university of Copenhagen. When his travel plans became known this week-end, Spain's interior minister Juan Ignacio Zoido was quick to go public with the threat to re-issue a European arrest warrant. A previous European arrest warrant was withdrawn when it became clear that, even if Belgium granted extradition, it would be on limited charges as some of the crimes Puigdemont is accused of in Spain are not crimes under Belgian law. But under Danish law attempting to detach any part of the state can carry a penalty of life imprisonment. Apparently Puigdemont is travelling to Copenhagen against the advice of his own lawyers, so the question is whether he actually intends to be arrested. La Vanguardia has a discussion of the reasons why Puigdemont might want to further "internationalise the conflict" in Denmark of all places. The Danish parliament was one of the first to pass a motion calling for dialogue to resolve the Catalan crisis, already in 2015. In addition, Spain's judicial actions against members of the board of the Catalan parliament have been a subject of debate.
Meanwhile the new speaker of the Catalan parliament Roger Torrent, appointed last week by the separatist majority in the parliament, has concluded a round of consultations with the various political parties and has no other candidate for regional PM than Puigdemont. He is expected to nominate him today as well. It remains to be seen whether the separatist-controlled board of the parliament will allow Puigdemont to participate in his own investiture debate remotely, or will allow MPs in jail or in Brussels to delegate their vote. The parliament's legal counsel has issued an opinion that neither of these two things are allowed by the parliament's rules of procedure.