Carles Puigdemont could be sworn in as Catalan president via videolink

Former Catalan President Steps Down as Leader of Separatist Party

Former Catalan President Steps Down as Leader of Separatist Party

A spokesman with Puigdemont's Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia) ticket said that the separatist politician secured the backing of the left-republican ERC party Tuesday evening in Brussels.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy ordered the December 21 regional election under constitutional powers he invoked in October to dissolve the previous parliament after separatist lawmakers voted to declare Catalonia an independent republic.

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.

While Spanish authorities have dropped a bid for a European arrest warrant to deport him, he has previously said he will return to Spain only if it offers certain "guarantees". "The presidential candidate will evidently be Puigdemont", Junts pel Catalunya representative Jordi Xucla told Spanish national radio.

He faces charges of sedition, rebellion, disobedience and misuse of public funds in Spain in the wake of the independence referendum on October 1st and the unilateral declaration of independence in the region on October 27th.

Ines Arrimadas, the leader of Ciudadanos (Citizens), which favours unity with Spain, said a fugitive from justice could not be a leader in Catalonia.

Both parties have confirmed the deal but confusion remains about how the president will read his legally required installation speech to the Catalan Parliament on Wednesday without returning to Catalonia, where he is wanted by Spanish authorities.

Once the parliament is formed, potential leaders of the regional government will put themselves forward for a vote of confidence, although it could take months for a new government to emerge.

The other main potential candidate to represent the pro-independence parties would be ERC leader Oriol Junqueras, who is serving a custodial sentence in a Madrid jail.

In order to guarantee a separatist majority in a parliamentary vote this month, Junqueras and the other jailed separatists are expected to ask for special permission from Spain's judiciary to travel to Barcelona for one day to cast their votes.

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.

Polls consistently show most Catalans want the right to decide their future but are evenly divided over splitting from Spain.

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