Thursday, 24 May, 2018

The Parliament again failed to elect a head of government

Catalan regional assembly investiture debate scheduled for Saturday Catalan parliament to vote on Puigdemont successor on Saturday
Andrew Cummings | 14 May, 2018, 00:18

Torra's election and the formation of a new government would close the latest chapter in the Catalan crisis, which reached its height past year when regional leaders held a disputed referendum on breaking away from Spain and then declared independence.

In a widely shared video on social media, Puigdemont suggested Quim Torra for president, signalling a potential end to months-long wrangling over a new regional government.

Mr Torra is an MP from Mr Puigdemont's pro-independence party, Together for Catalonia (JxCat).

The 55-year-old, a fervent secessionist, will have another chance during a second round on Monday, when only a simple majority of more "yes" than "no" votes is required.

There are now 70 lawmakers in the regional parliament who are pro-independence, against 65 who aren't.

However, pro-independence parties again won a majority of seats.

Ousted Catalan president Carles Puigdemont on Wednesday rejected being re-appointed as leader of the region, following pressure from Spain's government.

Puigdemont is overseas in self-exile and faces jail if he returns, while other candidates such as civic leader Jordi Sanchez are in prison, charged with rebellion for their role in the independence drive.

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He proposed political newcomer Quim Torra as his successor, urging the next regional executive to build an independent country.

But since then, all candidates proposed by the separatist camp to lead Catalonia have fallen flat, as they are either overseas and wanted by Spain, or already in prison, charged with rebellion.

They also say the rebellion charge against him and others is disproportionate, and describe those already in jail in Spain - like former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras - as "political prisoners".

Mr Puigdemont also explained he plans to remain the worldwide voice of the Catalan government, while Mr Torra, if invested, would oversee the region's internal affairs.

Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium just days after being sacked by Madrid, was detained in Germany in March after Spain issued a European arrest warrant against him.

Puigdemont is overseas in self-exile and faces jail if he returns, while other candidates such as civic leader Jordi Sanchez are in prison, charged with rebellion for their role in the independence drive.

Nine other Catalan separatist leaders such as Sanchez are now in jail in Spain and face trial on rebellion charges.

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