Diana Riba, the partner of jailed Catalan leader Raül Romeva, will run in the European election for independence Esquerra (ERC) party. She will be the number two to party leader Oriol Junqueras, the former Catalan vice president, also in prison.
Carles Puigdemont, the former president in exile and the leader of the other major pro-independence party in Catalonia, Junts per Catalunya (JxCat), offered Junqueras to join forces and run as his number two, but he declined.
Riba has been very active in denouncing the situation of his husband and other Catalan leaders in jail for organizing a referendum and declaring independence despite Spain’s opposition last year. Last May, she addressed members of the European Parliament: “I married a pacifist and now he is in jail accused of rebellion—a crime that only applies in cases where there has been violence, which was not the case.”
Before assuming his post as foreign affairs minister in the Catalan government, Romeva himself had been a member of the European Parliament for around a decade. Riba acknowledged that being in the chamber was “hard” for her.
CUP stays out
On the other hand, Catalonia’s far-left pro-independence CUP party will not run in the European Parliament election next year, claiming that EU institutions epitomize “capitalism, imperialism, institutional racism, and the militarization of societies.” With 4 seats, CUP is the smallest pro-independence party in the Catalan parliament and it only began running in major elections in 2012, after decades of grassroots activism.
CUP accuses the EU of being “silent” when Spain sent thousands of police officers to stop Catalonia’s independence referendum last year, leaving more than a thousand voters injured. The party also reproaches the EU’s lack of action regarding the prosecution and imprisonment of Catalan leaders in Spain.
While CUP underlines the importance of putting the internationalization of the independence push at the center of its political strategy, the party believes that the EU should not be the framework of reference.
Anna Gabriel, the former leader of the party in the Catalan parliament, has been in exile in Switzerland since March last year, when she left Spain alleging she would not face a fair trial.