The Spanish board of elections has decided to ban former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and his former advisers Antoni Comín and Clara Ponsatí from running in the European elections in May.
Monday's decision was made based on appeals filed by the conservative Popular Party (PP) and the centre-right political party Ciudadanos against Puigdemont, Comín and Ponsatí — all considered on the run from police in Spain after Catalonia's failed declaration of independence on October 27, 2017.
The PP and Ciudadanos said that since they were not residing in Spain and were not registered in the census of Spanish citizens living abroad, "neither of them fulfilled the conditions" to be candidates in a democratic election.
Since leaving Spain, Puigdemont has been exiled in Belgium like Comín, while Ponsatí lives in Scotland.
All three Catalan politicians were running on the independentist Junts per Catalunya ticket in the European Parliament.
The board of elections made its decision before the definitive list of Spanish candidates to the European elections was published on Tuesday. Puigdemont and his former advisers will be able to appeal the decision only 48 hours after the official list has been published, reported EFE.
The Catalan independentist party publicly condemned the board's decision on Twitter.
The first tweet reads: "They want to silence and set aside our candidacy because what it represents: the determination to defend the mandate of the #1Oct and the decision of millions of Catalans to form a #Republic cannot be explained in the heart of the European institutions."
The second one says: "We will not let go of defending our rights until the end, to keep putting them at the service of the cause of self-determination in Catalonia. We are convinced that the manoeuvres of certain bodies of Spanish justice will again be de-authorised."