Separatists retain speaker in new Catalan parliament

AFP - [email protected]
Separatists retain speaker in new Catalan parliament
Newly-elected Catalonia Parliament's Speaker, Josep Rull of separatist party Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia) passes the Mossos d'Escuadra honor guard as he leaves the Generalitat Palace in Barcelona on June 10, 2024. (Photo by Josep LAGO / AFP)

Catalan separatist parties managed to hang onto the role of speaker in their region's new parliament on Monday, despite losing their absolute majority in elections last month.


During the new parliament's opening session, lawmakers elected Josep Rull, a member of the hardline separatist JxCat party, which is headed by exiled former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont.

Rull was one of the separatist politicians who spent more than three years behind bars over his role in a failed 2017 independence bid before being pardoned in 2021.

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He was elected with 59 votes, beating his Socialist rival by a wide margin in a second round of voting following a last-minute deal between JxCat, its more moderate separatist ERC and the hard-left CUP.

The role is an important strategic position as the speaker is charged with proposing the first candidate to try and piece together a new regional government.

Last month's regional election was won by the Catalan branch of Spain's ruling Socialists, which secured 42 of the regional parliament's 135 seats, unseating the separatists for the first time in decades.

But the Socialists' leader Salvador Illa faces an uphill battle to piece together the support to reach the 68 mandates required to rule as ERC has ruled out any coalition deal with them.

Puigdemont - whose JxCat party came second with 35 seats - has also pledged to try and build a coalition although the separatist parties only secured 59 seats, meaning he too will struggle to pass the threshold.

The Catalan parliament must vote on a new government by June 25th at the latest.

If no government is in place by August 25, new elections will be called.

Puigdemont -- who fled Spain to avoid prosecution over the botched 2017 independence bid -- is due to return from years of self-imposed exile in the coming months thanks to a freshly minted amnesty law for Catalan separatists.



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