Carles Puigdemont, the leader of Junts per Catalunya who escaped from Spanish Justice, has gone from being the forgotten MEP not attached to any political family who "gathered dust" in the back rows of Parliament to being the new star of the Spanish political scene in the foreigner, holder of the key that could open the next Government and host of visits by senior national officials, according to different sources in the community legislative chamber.
In the corridors of the Strasbourg headquarters, where the State of the Union Debate is being held this Wednesday, which will be the last of the legislature before the European elections are held on June 9, 2024, the Catalan's name is heard again in the groups, with different perceptions depending on the political family that is the protagonist of the conversations. "In general it caused astonishment," admit parliamentary sources about the visit of the second vice president Yolanda Díaz to the independence leader.
"Other MEPs and even the Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, are very concerned with the drift of Spanish politics. They ask us a lot about whether there is going to be an amnesty or impunity law or if some crimes are going to be declassified. That makes a lot of damage to the image of Spain. It is a high-voltage situation and it is certain that if this law goes ahead, Spain will appear again in the Rule of Law report, as it already appeared last year due to the blockade of the General Council of Power Judicial or by the modification of the embezzlement," warned this Tuesday Adrián Vázquez, president of the Legal Affairs Commission and MEP of Renew - the political group to which Ciudadanos belongs -.
In a talk with journalists, Vázquez, who since January has also been general secretary of Ciudadanos, explained that the Justice Commission has asked the president of Parliament, Roberta Metsola, to withdraw the benefits of being a deputy (salary, etc.) to Puigdemont. and the former commissioners Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí, since at the time they obtained the status of deputy and the associated advantages "fraudulently", by not complying with the requirements established in the national electoral law, which is the one that applies to each country .
"When these three escapees came, the socialist president of Parliament, David Sassoli, gave them the report of fraud, as was recognized in October of last year. The Government of Spain then had 60 days to appeal that decision, but it did not do so. (...) This is a democratic anomaly because there are deputies who have had the minutes fraudulently for four years and who are receiving a salary fraudulently, which is why we have requested that they be removed and we hope that other parties will join "he explained.
Sources from the European Parliament rule out, however, that the president of the Chamber is going to undertake this task a few months before the end of the legislature.
Dolors Monserrat, spokesperson for the Spanish delegation of the European People's Party, has criticized the fact that the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, has not gone to Strasbourg to defend the priorities of the Executive for his current presidency of the European Council and is dedicated to advancing his political negotiations. "Perhaps Sánchez has not come so that his photo with Puigdemont in plenary session is not stolen or so that other leaders do not ask him why he proposes an Amnesty Law when amnesty does not enter into the Rule of Law," he pointed out.
"That the second vice president [Yolanda Díaz] meets in this house with a fugitive from Justice whose immunity has been withdrawn by the European Parliament itself generates great confusion, it is something that is not being understood here," he lamented, while He has assured that this has contributed to "the Spanish presidency not having the prominence that we Spaniards deserved, because this only happens once every eleven or twelve years and it is an opportunity that the Government of Pedro Sánchez has missed."
This international concern about Puigdemont's acquired importance is also perceived by other parties such as Vox, but "does not exist" in the eyes of the Socialist Party.
"What I sense concern about is knowing when there is going to be another new progressive Government in Spain. I understand the political games, they are understandable, but as president of the socialist group I have the opportunity to meet with many people and what they are worried about is because they will leave forward the dossiers and for the Spanish presidency to conclude. There is no concern in this regard [of the negotiation with Carles Puigdemont] and an example that this concern does not exist is that I have met with journalists from Brussels and none of them have asked me about Mr. Puigdemont because the focus is on other issues," defended Iratxe García, president of the socialist group.
He stressed that Spain's relationship with the European institutions "has been one of cooperation" and that "there is no fear that something could happen that is not within democratic normality, as happens in other countries." "Here in Europe, people know perfectly well what the progressive Government has done in recent years and this story of possible pacts that will break up the country will serve as a story for some, but the reality is very different," he concluded.
María Eugenia Rodríguez-Palop, an independent member of the confederal group of La Izquierda, has stated along the same lines: "For our political space, a meeting between Yolanda Díaz and Carles Puigdemont does not generate any problems, just as talking about amnesty does not generate any problems."
"From the legal and constitutional point of view there is no problem and from the political point of view there is an opportunity that must be taken advantage of: it began with the reform of the Penal Code, it has continued with pardons and I believe that no one has been torn the vestments in Andalusia or Extremadura with the pardons, and now they continue with the amnesty, which does not pose any legal or constitutional problem, and I say this as a jurist," he pointed out.
He has also specified that amnesty is part of the right of pardon and that it can even be considered more fair than a pardon because it requires an argument, while pardons cannot be asked nor do governments have the obligation to respond.