Madrid rule over Catalonia to continue if exiled ex-leader Puigdemont re-elected – PM Rajoy

Spain will continue to rule the regional administration of Catalonia directly from Madrid in the event that its self-exiled former leader Carles Puigdemont is chosen as president by the Catalan parliament, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned on Monday. Puigdemont fled to Brussels in October after Rajoy fired him as Catalonia’s leader when he declared an independent republic following an illegal referendum. Separatists said Puigdemont was their candidate to lead the region again, days before Catalonia’s parliament convenes to elect a new regional government. “It’s absurd that someone aspires to be president of the Catalan regional government as a fugitive in Brussels – it’s a case of common sense,” Rajoy said at his center-right People’s Party (PP) Madrid headquarters, according to Reuters.