CUP not to vote for Sànchez as Catalan president
Without CUP's support, Carles Puigdemont would be forced to resign as MP in order for pro-independence parties to have enough seats to elect Jordi Sànchez
In a blow to major pro-independence parties in Catalonia, far-left CUP decided on Saturday to abstain if Jordi Sànchez, a grassroots activist jailed in Madrid, is voted as candidate for president. Without CUP's support in parliament, Carles Puigdemont would be forced to resign as MP in order for Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) and Esquerra Republicana (ERC) to have enough votes to elect Sànchez as president.
After weeks of negotiations, pro-independence parties in Catalonia seemed close to agreeing on a new government that could put an end to months of direct rule from Madrid. Earlier on Saturday, ERC rectified previous statements and stressed their support for Sànchez, the candidate for president proposed by Puigdemont after abandoning his bid to reclaim the presidency last Thursday. Yet, ERC made it clear that they would only back Sànchez if CUP decided to support him too.
CUP argued that the proposal by JxCat and ERC was a “total submission to the Spanish legality,” and stressed that they were not willing to negotiate anything that meant the acceptance of the current political status quo in Catalonia as per the Spanish Constitution.
Agreeing on a candidate is an important step. But forming an effective government does not only depend on pro-independence parties. After Puigdemont's announcement, the Spanish government stressed that they “would not consent” Sànchez to be elected president from prison or any form of remote investiture or swearing-in through a representative.
Sànchez, the former president of the Catalan National Assembly, as well as Puigdemont’s number 2 in the past election, has so far been held in custody since mid-October while awaiting trial to face charges of rebellion. Puigdemont’s bid to retake his post from Belgium, where he seeks refuge from the Spanish justice, was blocked by the Spanish Constitutional Court. Puigdemont, the most voted candidate among pro-independence parties, stepped aside and proposed Sànchez as his successor.
Not only was Puigdemont impeded from being sworn in as president. As long as he did not return to Spain, he was also denied to vote in parliament. Toni Comín, a member of parliament also in Belgium, could not vote either.
The three pro-independence parties in Catalonia secured enough seats in parliament to have a majority without the votes of Puigdemont and Comín. Yet, without CUP’s four seats, Puigdemont and Comín would be forced to resign and cede their seat to another person in order for pro-independence MPs to outnumber unionists and appoint Sànchez as president.