New separatist candidate fails in first attempt

New separatist candidate fails in first attempt

The fifth attempt by separatists to form a government in the spanish conflict region of catalonia has failed in its first attempt.

In the parliamentary elections in barcelona, the new candidate for the post of regional president, separatist quim torra, narrowly missed the required absolute majority of votes, as expected. In the second vote scheduled for monday, however, the 55-year-old lawyer and writer is considered to have a good chance, because then torra will only need the simple majority he achieved on saturday. But if it takes until the 22. May no new government, catalans must hold new elections.

In presenting his government program, torra made it clear that the separatists do not intend to deviate from their goal of secession from spain in the future either. "We will continue to work tirelessly to have a catalan republic," he said.

Separatist leader carles puigdemont had renounced his own candidacy on thursday after months of tug-of-war with the central government in madrid. With torra, the politician wanted by the spanish judiciary for the first time proposed a candidate unencumbered by judicial problems. Puigdemont is in berlin, where he is awaiting a decision by the german judiciary on his extradition to spain.

Since the removal of puigdemont as regional president a good six months ago, catalonia no longer has a regular government. The region is under forced administration of the central government in madrid, which according to the constitution was automatically terminated when a new regional president took office.

Since the new election in december, four attempts to form a government in catalonia have failed. The candidates were either in exile abroad – which was the case with puigdemont in the first attempt in january – or were in u custody. The constitutional court in madrid had already determined in january that a candidate must be elected in person in the parliament in barcelona.

Torra said that under his presidency a constitutional process will be initiated. "We do not give up on any point. We want to comply with the mandate (of the independence referendum) of the 1. October (2017) remain faithful and establish an independent state in the form of a republic."He will lead a transitional government, but the legitimate president is puigdemont. His opponent, spain’s prime minister mariano rajoy, said in a first reaction: "we didn’t like what we heard today.". But torra will be "judged by his deeds".

In the vote, torra received 66 of a total of 135 votes, just two short of an absolute majority. The 65 opposition deputies voted unanimously against him. This result was handed to the separatist on monday. The four deputies of the separatist radical left-wing party CUP abstain from voting because they insist on puigdemont as regional president. CUP abstention is also foreseen for monday, although some senior party members are calling for a "no" vote. The CUP plans to make a binding decision on how to vote on monday at a party meeting this sunday.

Puigdemont was elected in the fall of 2017 after the unconstitutional independence referendum on 1 january 2017. October and his subsequent removal from office to belgium. On 25. March he was arrested on a european arrest warrant in schleswig-holstein. The spanish judiciary accuses him among other things of rebellion and disloyalty, the 55-year-old faces up to 30 years in prison. German justice has yet to decide whether he will be extradited to spain.