Catalans planning to return exiled president - via Skype

Catalonia's separatist parties will support Carles Puigdemont's re-election as regional head. Virginia Mayo AP

PDeCat's political platform in the election, the Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia) led by Carles Puigdemont, emerged as the largest separatist group ahead of Esquerra Republicana (Republican Left).

The new Catalan parliament will hold its first session on January 17, the first step in reinstating the local government after Madrid fired the old regional administration, led by Puigdemont, for illegally declaring independence.

However, the party that won the most votes, which supports the unity with Spain, poured scorn on the plan as Puigdemont is in self-imposed exile in Brussels and would be a "hologram president".

However, another issue is that although separatists have a majority, the rules of the Catalan assembly dictate that deputies can not delegate their vote and with Puigdemont in Belgium and Junqueras and other elected deputies either in jail or in exile and in theory unable to vote, that majority effectively vanishes. If carried through, the move would reinstall a leader who was ousted from power, along with the rest of the region's leaders, by Spain's central government for unilaterally declaring the region's independence last fall.

He faces charges of sedition, rebellion, disobedience and misuse of public funds in Spain in the wake of the independence referendum on October 1st and the unilateral declaration of independence in the region on October 27th. "You can't be president of Catalonia from Brussels by Skype", she said.

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The deal - reached over dinner in Brussels on Tuesday - would allow Puigdemont to deliver his acceptance speech this month either by videoconference from Belgium or by having another lawmaker read it in the Catalan Parliament on his behalf, according to the Catalan radio station Rac1 and other outlets.

The new Catalan parliament will hold its first session on 17 January, the first step in reinstating local government.

While the anti-secession Ciutadans (Citizens) collected the most votes of any single party, the prime minister's hope that the separatists would suffer a stinging rebuke at the polls went unfulfilled.

Junqueras has asked for release from jail to attend the first meeting of the new Catalan parliament.

"Madrid must be made to understand that what is needed is dialogue, negotiation and agreement on the future relationship we Catalans want to have with Spain - one based on respect, recognition, cooperation and equality".

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