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  Catalonia elects a new leader
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Last EditedIndyGeorgia  May 14, 2018 06:11pm
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AuthorDiego Torres
News DateMonday, May 14, 2018 03:10:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionMADRID — Catalonia finally elected a new leader Monday, bringing to an end close to five months of political deadlock. But it’s unlikely he’ll get along any better with Madrid than the last one.

The Catalan chamber backed Quim Torra, a lawyer and close ally of former President Carles Puigdemont, to become the new regional president with 66 votes in favor, 65 votes against and 4 abstentions.

The election of 55-year-old Torra — most widely known in Catalonia for his work as an editor and writer — paves the way for a new regional government to be formed, ending a political limbo during which three previous candidates put forward by the separatists since the December regional election were blocked by the courts.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who repeatedly called for the separatists to present a “clean” candidate, has finally got his wish: Torra, unlike the other candidates, is not in trouble with the Spanish legal system. But his profile, the circumstances under which he was elected and the tone he set as a candidate indicate he is unlikely to reduce tensions between Barcelona and Madrid — or within Catalan society itself, which is roughly split down the middle between those in favor and those against secession.

Torra, a fiercely nationalistic politician who previously headed one of Catalonia’s biggest pro-independence grassroots organizations, was put forward by Puigdemont in a move widely seen as an attempt to continue to call the shots from abroad. (Puigdemont is currently in Berlin, waiting for a decision from a German court on whether he will be extradited to Spain.)
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