Catalan separatists consider choosing a president via Skype

Beamed in from Brussels - Puigdemont during recent elections.
Beamed in from Brussels - Puigdemont during recent elections. / AFP
  • Carles Puigdemont, possible main candidate to be regional government leader, is in Belgium and will be arrested if he returns to Spain

The pro-indepdendence political parties, who hold a majority in the soon-to-be-convened Catalan parliament, are discussing between themselves whether to remotely invest the new president of the regional government.

The former president, Carles Puigdemont, is leader of Junts per Catalunya, the biggest separatist party after December's election, but he is still in Belgium along with five of his ex-ministers. If they return to Spain they face certain arrest over the investigation into the illegal declaration of independence last autumn.

His party and second place ERC are checking the legality of Puigdemont reading out an investiture speech from Belgium via a video conference link such as Skype ahead of a majority of regional MPs voting him in. It isn't clear if Puigdemont would then return to be arrested or a day-to-day stand-in would be appointed while he stayed away.

Another controversial scenario debated is that Oriol Junqueras. leader of ERC, the second largest secessionist party, is sworn in, but he is held in jail and, if let out, would only be able to attend votes.

A further option being considered, and favoured by those against more confrontation with Madrid, is that the five MPs in Belgium, including Puigdemont, and the three in jail in Madrid step aside from their seats and allow other candidates lower down December's electoral list to take their place as regional MPs.

Next Wednesday, 17 January the regional parliament meets for the first session in the process of deciding a new president and government.