New Catalonia Leader Pledges Secession

New Catalonia Leader Pledges Secession New Catalonia Leader Pledges Secession

The new leader of the government in the Spanish region of Catalonia has pledged to continue his predecessor Artur Mas’s plans to secede within 18 months.

Carles Puigdemont was speaking in the regional assembly ahead of a vote that confirmed him in office by 70 votes in favor to 63 against. On Saturday, Mas abandoned efforts to regain the regional presidency after another party refused to support him.

Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy has, meanwhile, pledged to fight for national unity, BBC reported.

“The government won’t allow a single act that could harm the unity and sovereignty of Spain,” he said in Madrid.

The Spanish prime minister, whose own position is unclear since inconclusive elections in December, has insisted that whoever forms the next national government should have “an ample parliamentary base with the stability and capacity to face the separatist challenge”.

The future of Catalonia’s independence movement had been uncertain since regional parliamentary elections in September.

The pro-independence parties that triumphed in the polls bickered over who should lead the new local government. But addressing the assembly on Sunday, Puigdemont pledged to end the divisions.

“There are many [supporters of independence], true, there are many more than there used to be, more than there were 20 years ago,” he said. “[But] in this phase we have to gain total democratic legitimacy, we need more [supporters] and I call on everyone.”

On Saturday, Mas agreed to withdraw his candidacy for the regional presidency because his nomination led to disagreements between the anti-capitalist CUP party and the Junts pel Si (Together for Yes) alliance.

In November, the Catalan Parliament voted to start the secession process—a move declared unconstitutional by Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party, which ran the country before last month’s election.

Catalonia is a highly industrialized and populous region in Spain’s north-east that accounts for about a fifth of the country’s economic output.

Both the PP and the Socialists, who came first and second respectively in Spain’s general election, oppose Catalan secession.