Catalan secessionists fail to elect new regional leader

REUTERS

Madrid successfully requested the Constitutional Court to cancel a reform voted for last week by Catalonia's majority separatist parliament that would allow Puigdemont - now in self-exile overseas - to be appointed president without having to be present.

This will be the fifth attempt to form a government since the last administration was sacked by Madrid almost seven months ago for declaring independence.

If Mr Torra fails to win an absolute majority in the first-round vote in the parliament, he will face a second-round ballot on Monday, needing only a simple majority.

However, the parties that object to Catalonia's independence voted against him, while the four representatives of the pro-independence Popular Unity Candidacy abstained.

Speaking from hi self-exile in Berlin, Mr Puigdemont, pointed to Catalan lawmaker Quim Torra as a strong candidate to take on the role of regional president.

From December 2017, the Catalan Parliament already four times tried to form a government, but all candidates for the post of Prime Minister are either in prison or outside of Spain and can not return to the country for prosecution. Torra is a pro-independence lawmaker.

The formation of a new regional government is required for Spain to lift the state of direct rule.

Both the Spanish government and the courts have declared the secession illegal and vowed to block it.

If a president is not sworn in by May 22 a new election will be triggered.

Separatist events maintained a slim majority in regional elections in December, however Spanish courts have blocked efforts to elect two separatists in jail awaiting trial and fugitive ex-chief Carles Puigdemont. "He makes a call to clash, to have more confrontation", she said.

But he has been a major cultural figure over the last decade pushing for the region to fully break from Spain.

A German court last month dismissed the extradition request for Puigdemont on the rebellion allegations and released him on bail.

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