130th President of Catalonia, Leader of the Independence Movement, MEP
Freedom & Democracy in Europe.
Carles Puigdemont was born on 29th December 1962 in Amer (Catalonia). For almost three decades, he worked in the field of communication, before moving into politics in 2006, when he was elected as a Member of the Parliament of Catalonia. In 2011, he went on to become the Mayor of Girona, a position to which he was re-elected in 2015. On the 10th January 2016, he was sworn in as the 130th President of the Catalan Government, the Generalitat, as its highest ranking institutional representative. During his term of office, on 1st October 2017, the first self-determination referendum on Catalan independence was held, despite opposition from the Spanish State, which strove to prevent the ballot resorting to the use of force. On 27th October, upholding the result of the referendum, in which a clear majority voted for independence, the Parliament of Catalonia approved a declaration that constituted “the Catalan Republic as an independent democratic and social sovereign State under the rule of law”. In response, the Spanish Government suspended the entire and legitimately elected Catalan Government, including President Puigdemont. Refusing to recognise this dismissal, he was forced into exile in Belgium in response to a wave of political repression, with charges for rebellion, sedition and embezzlement being issued against the members of Catalonia’s legitimate government.
On 21st December 2017, elections for the Parliament of Catalonia were held, having been called by the Spanish Government and President Puigdemont received the highest share of votes within the pro-independence party majority. However, on several occasions, the Spanish courts denied him his right to be sworn in as President. On 25th March 2018, he was held in Germany under a European arrest and extradition warrant issued by the Spanish courts, but the German justice system refused to extradite him for the crimes of rebellion and sedition, leading the Spanish High Court to withdraw the European warrant. On 24th September 2021, Carles Puigdemont was held in Italy, but Italian justice also refused to extradite him to Spain.
Carles Puigdemont is now a free European citizen living in Belgium, where he heads the Council for the Catalan Republic, an institution that campaigns for the defense of Catalonia’s civil and political rights from Europe’s free space. In the recent European parliamentary elections, held on 26th May 2019, Mr. Puigdemont headed the parliamentary list that received the highest share of the ballot in Catalonia, obtaining almost a million votes. Initially the Spanish Electoral Board refused to give him MEP credentials, but the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that Mr. Puigdemont is Member of the European Parliament for all intents and purposes. Nowadays, President Puigdemont is fighting to restore his immunity as a MEP in a litigation at the Court of Justice of the European Union against the European Parliament and Spain in order to defend his rights and the right of Catalonia to become an independent country. He is firm defender of participative democracy and the use of digital tools and technologies to incentive citizens’ participation in politics.
He also presides Junts per Catalunya, a new Catalan pro-independence political party launched in 2020 that is currently present in all institutions, holds the presidency of the Parliament of Catalonia and is one of the two parties in the Catalan governing coalition.
Since going into exile, President Carles Puigdemont has received invitations from various parliaments and universities, as well as political, social and cultural institutions across Europe such as the University of Copenhagen, University of Helsinki, Oxford University, University of Amsterdam, and University of Leuven. He has He has also published four books: “La crisi catalana. Una oportunitat per a Europa” (The Catalan Crisis: An Opportunity for Europe - 2018) and “Re-unim-nos” (Let’s Reunite - 2019). He has co-authored togheter with Xevi Xirgo two biographical works: “M’explico. De la investidura a l’exili” (I explain myself. From investiture to exile – 2020); and “La lluita a l’exili” (Struggle in exile – 2020).