Madrid's Direct Rule Over Catalan Gov't Must End

Carles Puigdemont welcomes Quim Torra in Berlin

Carles Puigdemont welcomes Quim Torra in Berlin

On May 14 the Catalan Parliament elected Quim Torra, a lawmaker from the Junts per Catalunya party, the president of the autonomous region.

Sixty-six votes yes, 65 votes no, and four abstentions.

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The new Catalan government's main priority will be to seek dialogue with Madrid as well as to "put an end to the suspension of Catalan autonomy", Torra said, referring to Madrid imposing direct rule over the region following an independence push previous year.

Torra traveled to Berlin to publicly take the baton from former president Carles Puigdemont, who is not permitted to leave Germany until the courts decide whether or not to free him or extradite him to Spain. Other members of Puigdemont's administration have been imprisoned on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds for having organized the independence referendum, which sparked the biggest constitutional crisis in Spain since the end of the Franco dictatorship in the 1970s.

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There is now no confirmed date for Torra's official inauguration as regional president, but he and Puigdemont said that they will "work to make it happen as soon as possible".

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