Catalan separatists aim to elect new regional president

Catalan separatists aim to elect new regional president

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.

Former Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, attends a a meeting with members of the Junts per Catalunya party, in a hotel in Berlin, Saturday, April 5, 2018.

But Torra has another chance in a second round of voting on Monday - as only a simple majority is needed in the regional parliament.

Backing unilateral independence over the negotiated exit favoured by larger separatist parties, the CUP has previously broken ranks with the pro-independence block.

But since then, every candidate picked by the separatist camp has fallen flat.

Torra is a newcomer to politics.

Catalonia's pro-independence parties risk an election being automatically triggered if they don't form a government by May 22.

After a long career with the Swiss insurance firm Winterthur, Torra used a severance package to set up a publishing house in 2008.

Catalonia is Spain's richest and most populous region.

Until 2015 he also managed a cultural centre in Barcelona's El Born district which became notorious for pushing for independence.

As such, Ines Arrimadas, the Catalan head of centre-right, anti-independence party Ciudadanos, labelled him Puigdemont's "puppet" on Friday.

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.

Who is Carles Puigdemont? .

Madrid wants to extradite him to Spain to try him on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds for staging an independence referendum in Catalonia on October 1 even though the courts had ruled it unconstitutional.

Puigdemont is free to move around Germany after being released from detention pending a German court decision on a Spanish extradition request, but he may not leave the country.

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