Madrid blocks second Puigdemont comeback bid in Catalonia

Former Catalan President renounces leadership from exile

Madrid blocks second Puigdemont comeback bid in Catalonia

In the event, pro-independence parties retained their slim majority in the Catalan parliament and a new government will have to decide whether to pursue another collision course with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

Mr Torra is an MP from Mr Puigdemont's pro-independence party, Together for Catalonia (JxCat).

Torra, a close ally of former president Carles Puigdemont, failed to win an absolute majority in the Catalan parliament on Saturday but will require only a simple majority in the next round of voting.

The former head of Catalonia Carles Pujdeme suggested instead another candidate for the presidency of the regional government.

Time is running out to form a new administration, as the parliament must vote in a leader before May 22 or fresh elections must be called.

There are now 70 lawmakers in the regional parliament who are pro-independence, against 65 who aren't.

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Mr Torra, vice-president of the activist group Omnium Cultural - whose leader, Jordi Cuixart, has been in preventative prison since October - is the so-called "Plan D" candidate after three previous inauguration attempts were blocked by the Spanish courts.

Separatist lawmakers changed regional laws Friday to allow Catalonia's president to be sworn in without being present. "Our group proposes member of parliament Quim Torra to be president of the Catalan government so he can take on this responsibility in the next few days and so that a government can be formed immediately", Puigdemont said.

It will be the fourth attempt to elect a leader after failures with Jordi Turull and Jordi Sanchez, who are now in prison, and Carles Puigdemont, who is now in Germany after leaving Spain to escape charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds.

Mr Puigdemont also explained he plans to remain the worldwide voice of the Catalan government, while Mr Torra, if invested, would oversee the region's internal affairs.

A German court last month dismissed the extradition request for Puigdemont on the rebellion allegations and released him on bail.

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