• Saturday, Dec 05, 2020
  • Last Update : 12:32 am

Catalonia votes in hardline separatist Quim Torra as leader

  • Published at 02:08 am May 15th, 2018
Catalan regional president Quim Torra
The new elected Catalan regional president Quim Torra waves as he leaves the Catalan parliament after his election during a parliamentary vote session in Barcelona on May 14, 2018 AFP

The deeply-divided Catalan parliament voted 66 in favour, 65 against and 4 abstentions for the election of Torra

The Catalan parliament voted in a hard-line separatist as leader on Monday, heralding an end to seven months of direct rule from Madrid but also more political uncertainty in a region that retains a mandate to seek a split from Spain.

The election of Quim Torra as regional leader will allow the wealthy region to run its own affairs for the first time since October, when Madrid imposed direct rule after sacking the previous administration after it declared independence.

It should also lead to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy securing the backing he needs from regional parties to implement much-delayed central government budget plans. But it is unlikely to ease tensions between Madrid and Barcelona.

The deeply-divided Catalan parliament voted 66 in favour, 65 against and 4 abstentions for the election of Torra, a former lawyer and publisher with little political experience. The simple majority was what he needed to be voted leader after failing to get an absolute majority in a ballot on Saturday.

Following the vote, pro-independence lawmakers stood to sing the Catalan anthem. Torra, who was hand-picked as candidate by former regional leader Carles Puigdemont, then embraced members of parliament who formed a line to congratulate him.

Many wore yellow ribbons in honour of Catalan politicians held in custody in jail for their role in October's illegal independence referendum.

In a speech to parliament on Saturday, Torra promised to work towards a Catalan republic and referred to Puigdemont, who is in Berlin waiting for a German court to rule on an extradition request from Spain, as the legitimate leader of the region.

The Spanish government called the speech confrontational and a member of the Catalan parliament for Rajoy's People's Party (PP), Andrea Levy, said on Monday in a television interview that Madrid would apply direct rule again if the new administration overstepped the law.

Fearing an investor backlash, over three thousand companies have moved their registered headquarters out of Catalonia since October, while tourism also dipped after the referendum.

But over the whole of 2017, visitor numbers to Catalonia rose and its economy grew strongly, out-pacing the Spanish regional average.

Police sealed off part of the park surrounding the Catalan parliament in central Barcelona for the vote, but streets were quiet with no demonstrations.

"It's essential that we put an end to direct rule from Madrid and for that reason alone this is definitely good news," said 33-year-old actor Sergi Cervera, waiting outside an office building near the city's famous Las Ramblas boulevard.

Under the terms of the legislation that allowed for Madrid to take over the regional government, direct rule will be lifted once the new administration has been formed with all cabinet members named.

Pro-independence parties won a majority of seats in regional elections called in December by Rajoy. However, the party that won the most votes was Ciudadanos ("Citizens"), which favours unity with Spain.

51
51
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail