To everyone's surprise Carles Puigdemont became 130th President of the Generalitat of Catalonia when president elect Artur Mas nominated him as his substitute on January 10th 2016 because the far left CUP party refused to vote in favour of his investiture.
Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó was born in Amer in the Selva comarca of Girona province on December 29th 1962 and has been openly in favour of independence for Catalonia since an early age.
He studied Catalan philology at Col·legi Universitari de Girona and spent most of his working life as a journalist. He worked at El Punt, was editor of the Agència Catalana de Noticies and later of Catalonia Today.
He first became involved in politics when he joined the Convergència youth section, the JNC, but has only been a full-time politician since 2006, when he was elected deputy for CiU to the Parliament of Catalonia. He was re-elected in 2010, 2012 and 2015.
In the 2015 elections, Carles Puigdemont was third on the Junts pel Sí electoral list for Girona behind Lluís Llach and Anna Caula. Previously he had been Director of Casa de Cultura de Girona between 2002 and 2004.
Politically, Carles Puigdemont was on the social democrat wing of Convergència and has always been strongly in favour of independence.
He headed the electoral list in the municipal elections for the Ajuntament de Girona in 2007 but after losing led the opposition. In 2011, he won the elections, breaking 32 years of PSC hegemony, and became Mayor of Girona. He won the 2015 local elections and combined the roles of Mayor of Girona and deputy for Junts pel Sí following his election to Parliament of Catalonia in September 2015.
In July 2015, he replaced Josep Maria Vila d’Abadal as president of the Associació de Municipis per la Independència (AMI).
Carles Puigdemont is author of 'Cata… què? Catalunya vista per la premsa internacional’ (La Campana, 1994) and of many articles on communication and new technologies. He was a regular contributor to El Punt Avui and a member of Col·legi de Periodistes de Catalunya even after being elected to the Parliament of Catalonia.
He was elected as President of Catalonia on January 10th 2016, following a last-minute agreement between the pro-Catalan independence parties Together for Yes and CUP, who had refused to accept President elect Artur Mas.
Puigdemont is the first Catalan President to refuse to take the oath of loyalty to the Spanish constitution and the current monarch, Felipe VI.
Carles Puigdemont's main task during the XI Legislature of the Parliament of Catalonia was to steer the Catalan Government towards the referendum on Catalan Independence from Spain, which was held October 1st 2017.
The favourable result of the referendum led to a month of conflict with the Spanish government, which ended in a declaration of independence on October 27th in the Catalan Parliament and the imposition of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution by the Spanish government, closing down the Catalan government and calling elections for December 21st 2017.
Following the declaration of independence Puigdemont and a number of other members of the Catalan government fled to Brussels, where despite extradition attempts he stayed to fight the elections for the coalition Junts per Catalunya (JxCat).
The pro-independence parties (JxCat, ERC and the CUP) won an absolute majority, which gives Carles Puigdemont to be re-elected president of the Generalitat.
However, he is currently still in Brussels and it is uncertain whether he will be able to occupy the position.