News Cheat: Carles Puigdemont

Name: Carles Puigdemont

Age: 53

Appearance: Mop-topped German football coach Joachim Low, with nerdy specs.

In the news because: He's Artur Mas's replacement as Catalonia’s new president. A long-declared independentista, Senyor Puigdemont has already made it clear to everyone that his will be a separatist pre-Independence government preparing local institutions for a Catalan national state within 18 months’ time.

Two-headed monster: Puigdemont will have to lead a coalition between two diametrically opposed parties – the neoliberal Convergencia Democratica de Catalunya, which has ruled the roost for the greater part of the last four decades, and the jean-wearing marxist hipster radicals Canditatura d’Unitat Popular (CUP)- with just one thing in common between the two parties: They’re Junts Pel Si.

Junts Pel Si? ‘Together For Yes.’ The name of Catalan independence movement. After the unofficial referendum on independence last year, which remained inconclusive and according to Moncloa, ‘unconstitutional’, many in the movement felt Artur Mas was no longer the man to drive the process forward. The previously-mentioned anti-capitalistas CUP, in particular, gleefully vetoed his re-election. This is what led to the emergence of the Girona mayor as the candidate to please all tastes.

All tastes? His parents own a pastisseria in the small town of Amer, so Puigdemont’s got working-class kudos. He also worked as a journalist for Punt D’Avui and other papers before entering politics, so he knows the media beast. And, as a child, he didn’t dream of following in the footsteps of Lluis Companys or Jordi Puyol, but, after watching Neil Armstrong touch down on the moon (when he was six years old) little Puigdemont dreamt of donning an astronaut’s helmet and rocketing into outer space…

…So he’s open to exploring unchartered territory then? That’s the idea. Still, though, for it to happen, Puigdemont the pastisser’s boy would have to: a) sidestep the entire Spanish constitution, which states that Spain is ‘indivisible’, b) manage to convince embattled Spanish premier Mariano Rajoy to grant a proper, rubber-stamped referendum. And c) get the approval of the Catalonian electorate, still so unconvinced that only 48% voted for Junts X Si in the unofficial local referendum.

Right. So, failing all that… he could bypass Spanish law and declare a unilateral Catalonian state.

And then risk an international thumbs-down? Yup. And even put at risk Catalonia’s self-governing rights within the current autonomous community set-up.

So hardly ‘adeu’ to ye fair Spanish ladies just yet then? Probably not.

Anything to add: Both the words ‘Puig’ and ‘Mont’ mean ‘mountain’.

So, his name means ‘Mountain of the Mountain’? Yes. Incidentally, as no-one on Spanish telly seems to know how to pronounce his name, here’s how to do it: Puds-da-mon. Now you can impress your Catalan mates. Deeuu.

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