Carles Puigdemont, the fired former leader of want-away Spanish region Catalonia, has announced his intentions to return to power. The politician, who faces charges of sedition and rebellion over an independence declaration made last year, has been in self-exile in Belgian capital Brussels since December when he was deposed by Madrid.
Yet Puigdemont remains defiant after regaining his seat in the Catalan parliament on December 21. And, having earned the sobriquet “the hologram president” from detractors thanks to his distant pontificating, Puigdemont claims he can use tech to rule from his new home.
“I am a member of parliament who is perfectly eligible as president,” Puigdemont told local station Catalunya Radio. “These days many big projects are handled with the use of new technologies.”
Unrest in Catalonia, which is Spain’s richest region and accounts for almost a fifth of its GDP, culminated in its declaration to split from Madrid in October and street protests that were met with violence by state police.
Other independence leaders are serving custodial terms in the capital for their roles in the episode, which was Spain’s worst constitutional crisis in decades. But Puigdemont has thus far evaded authorities, and says he will restore the former administration.
“There is no plan B,” Puigdemont said. “Plan A is restoration because that is what the people have entrusted us with.”
Tech already plays a huge role in Catalonia’s economy. It is home to 1.6 million-population city Barcelona, which has emerged as one of Europe’s brightest tech hubs in recent years. In addition to being home to startups like Glovo, TravelPerk and Coverfy Barcelona is a regional center for multinationals like Volkswagen and Nestle – and hosts the Mobile World Congress each year.