May 13, 2018 / 2:23 PM / 12 days ago

Catalan secessionists poised to elect new regional leader in second vote

BARCELONA (Reuters) - A small Catalan separatist party said on Sunday it would abstain in a second vote to elect a regional leader paving the way for pro-independence candidate Quim Torra to secure a majority and form a government.

Candidate for the regional presidency of Catalonia, Quim Torra, looks on during an investiture debate at the regional parliament in Barcelona, Spain, May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Albert Gea

Torra, a close ally of former leader Carles Puigdemont, failed to win sufficient votes to become leader on Saturday But if the far-left CUP party’s four parliamentarians abstain in the vote on Monday, he is expected to secure the simple majority needed to become leader, ending a political impasse that has lasted for months.

In his address to the regional parliament on Saturday, Torra said he would work towards the creation of a Catalan republic and respect the outcome of last year’s vote on secession, which was deemed illegal by Madrid.

Catalonia has been without an administration since December despite pro-independence parties winning most seats in a December election called by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy after Puigdemont’s secession attempt.

Reporting by Sam Edwards. Editing by Jane Merriman

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