An unusual election campaign in Catalonia

Ahead of the early regional elections in Catalonia on December 21 the Spanish authorities are taking action against the separatists. The Court of Auditors ordered the seizure of former Catalan leader Arturo Mas's house on Tuesday. The European warrant for the arrest of the deposed Catalan head of government Carles Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium, has been withdrawn, but the Spanish arrest warrant is still pending. Spain's media try to shed light on an unusual election campaign.

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El Mundo (ES) /

No mercy for criminal separatists

The Socialist leading candidate in the Catalonian regional elections, Miquel Iceta, has said that if he wins the election he will campaign for the separatists facing trial to be pardoned. El Mundo is against the idea:

“This is an inappropriate, hypocritical and irresponsible position. Inappropriate because the trial against the separatists is still pending and a pardon would only be possible in the context of a conviction. Hypocritical because Iceta is the leader of a party that railed against the illegal actions of the deposed government. ... And irresponsible because the leader of the Catalan Socialists is calling for the pardon of persons who not only are accused of serious crimes such as rebellion and sedition, but have also proven incapable of unequivocally renouncing the unilateral approach.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Puigdemont loves to cast himself as a victim

El Periódico de Catalunya fears that Carles Puigdemont could be planning to exploit his own arrest for the election campaign:

“Puigdemont making a surprise return to Catalonia, which would be followed by his detention, conveniently planned and spread by social and traditional media, could have an unpredictable impact on the electoral process. ... The images of the unacceptable police brutality of October 1 went around the globe and are still being used by separatists to legitimise a vote that lacked any democratic basis. In the same way the logical detention of Puigdemont after his escape would give the ex-president a major propagandistic trump that would bolster his discourse about being a victim.”

ABC (ES) /

Spanish justice setting an example for Belgium

The efficiency and independence of the Spanish judiciary are things the country can be proud of, the centralist daily ABC stresses, criticising Belgium for dragging the affair out for so long:

“The clarity and diligence of [the Spanish judge Pablo] Llarena stand in stark contrast to the indolence of his Belgian colleague, who has once again postponed until the 14th of this month the proceedings for the execution of the European arrest warrant issued against Carles Puigdemont and the others who fled. This enables the ex-president to run his campaign as an 'exile', which is precisely what he wanted. At least the Spanish judiciary has responded and done so without letting itself be influenced by political considerations pertaining to public opinion or the election campaign.”

Ara (ES) /

Arbitrariness has become the norm

The Spanish judiciary's course of action is by no means exemplary, Esther Vera, editor-in-chief of the Catalan daily Ara argues:

“When arbitrariness becomes the norm this is a sign that a political system is still a long way from being a mature democracy. ... Some Catalan and Spanish politicians want us to believe that a completely extraordinary situation is something entirely normal: an electoral campaign beginning while the leading candidates of two parties are excluded from it because of ideas they defended in a peaceful manner. One of them is in custody while the other is on trial in Belgium. The election campaign is beginning with an exhausted but indignant public that wants to hear serious political proposals for overcoming the current stalemate.”