Former Catalan President Steps Down as Leader of Separatist Party

  • Former Catalan President Steps Down as Leader of Separatist Party

Former Catalan President Steps Down as Leader of Separatist Party

But the separatists will still struggle to form a coalition government, in large part because eight of their 70 elected lawmakers are either in jail in Madrid or with Puigdemont in Belgium to avoid prosecution in Spain.

Speaking to reporters in Barcelona, staunchly pro- independence Carme Forcadell said she would not stay in the post despite having been offered to do so after regional elections on December 21 that saw separatist parties retain their absolute parliamentary majority.

He wants the separatist majority in the new regional parliament to appoint him despite his absence.

But this was short-lived as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy imposed direct rule on the semi-autonomous region, sacked its government, dissolved its parliament and called snap elections.

Pro-independence parties secured a slim majority of seats but failed to win more than 50 percent of the popular vote, meaning there is still no end in sight to the months-long, and increasingly bitter, impasse.

Carles Puigdemont aims to return to office as president of Catalonia - despite the fact it's unlikely he'll actually return there in person.

The assembly has been convened for its first sitting on January 17 and how that issue and the question of Puigdemont's return as the region's leader are eventually resolved are still to therefore be decided.

Under the agreement between Mr Puigdemont's Junts per Catalunya party (Together for Catalonia) and the Catalan Republic Left, the fugitive politician would be installed at a meeting of the parliament next week.

He is in Belgium, however, and will be arrested if he comes back to Spain on charges of rebellion and sedition.

Many of the Catalan political leaders were arrested on charges of sedition and rebellion after the independence declaration. Spain has jailed other pro-separatist leaders involved in the independence push. The Spanish leader has also described as "absurd" the idea that Puigdemont could lead Catalonia from overseas.

In an editorial published on the Politico news website on Wednesday, Puigdemont reiterated his call for talks with Madrid, which Rajoy has tentatively agreed to but on condition that the region drop its push for independence.

However, another issue is that although separatists have a majority, the rules of the Catalan assembly dictate that deputies can not delegate their vote and with Puigdemont in Belgium and Junqueras and other elected deputies either in jail or in exile and in theory unable to vote, that majority effectively vanishes.