Catalans elect new separatist leader Quim Torra

Catalan parliament to vote for new president on Monday

Torra failed to win a prior ballot - which had required an absolute majority - on Saturday in the 135-member Catalan parliament, falling short of the 68 votes required to be elected.

Separatist lawmaker Quim Torra, candidate for regional president, walks to deliver a speech during a parliamentary vote session in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, May 14, 2018.

Immediately after winning the vote, Torra said one of the goals of his new government would be to reinstate Puigdemont as "the legitimate president" of Catalonia.

The 55-year-old has also promised to create a "state council in exile" and vowed to establish a constituent assembly to write the constitution for a new Catalan republic.

Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium after being sacked as Catalonia's leader when he attempted to force through an illegal, internationally unrecognised independence referendum in October, is now in Berlin awaiting a German court ruling on whether he will be extradited to Spain on charges that he misused public funds for his secessionist vote.

"We will build a Catalan republic", he said after the vote, as lawmakers sang Catalonia's anthem "Els Segadors" ("The Reapers" in English).

Torra's elevation became all but assured after the far-left radical pro-independence CUP party said it would abstain from an investiture vote in the regional parliament on Monday.

Spain's Constitutional Court accepted an appeal by Spanish lawmakers in Madrid that blocked pro-independence Catalan politicians from voting Puigdemont into office, while he remains on the run from the law.

Central authorities have been ruling Catalonia straight from Madrid since an try and declare unilateral independence from Spain in late October.

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He told parliament he was "working tirelessly for the Catalan republic".

Central authorities have been ruling Catalonia directly from Madrid since the regional government led by Puigdemont relied on the results of an outlawed October 1 referendum to declare unilateral independence from Spain.

Torra lambasted European institutions for their "unacceptable silence" over the Catalan crisis.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called for "understanding and harmony" but warned that he would not tolerate any breaking of the law and Spain's constitution.

Elections were held in December 2017, however no party won an overall majority.

Polls show that Catalonia's 7.5 million residents are evenly divided on whether the region should secede from Spain.

"In contrast, Puigdemont's strategy is to continue using every opportunity... to continue challenging the Spanish authorities and keep the secessionist momentum alive".

Ines Arrimadas, leader in Catalonia of the centrist, anti-independence Ciudadanos party, has branded Torra a mere "puppet" for Puigdemont.

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