May 13, 2018 / 2:34 PM / 10 months ago

Catalan secessionists poised to elect new regional leader in second vote

Quim Torra, the candidate proposed by former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to head the regional Catalan government, votes during his investiture debate at the regional parliament in Barcelona, Spain, May 12, 2018. REUTERS/Juan Medina

BARCELONA (Reuters) - A small Catalan separatist party said on Sunday it would abstain in a second vote to elect a regional leader paving the way for pro-independence candidate Quim Torra to secure a majority and form a government.

Torra, a close ally of former leader Carles Puigdemont, failed to win sufficient votes to become leader on Saturday

.But if the far-left CUP party’s four parliamentarians abstain in the vote on Monday, he is expected to secure the simple majority needed to become leader, ending a political impasse that has lasted for months.

In his address to the regional parliament on Saturday, Torra said he would work towards the creation of a Catalan republic and respect the outcome of last year’s vote on secession, which was deemed illegal by Madrid.

Catalonia has been without an administration since December despite pro-independence parties winning most seats in a December election called by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy after Puigdemont’s secession attempt.

Reporting by Sam Edwards. Editing by Jane Merriman

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