A Belgian judge was previously expected to rule whether to extradite the ministers on December 14. The five were fighting the move, saying they may not receive a fair trial on their return.
Carles Puigdemont has previously said he would return if this was guaranteed.
On December 4, six Catalan ex-ministers being held in a prison near Madrid were released from prison on bail. However, two others, including former Catalan Vice President Orial Junqueras, were remanded in custody.
Campaigning has now officially started ahead of the new vote organized by Spanish authorities in an attempt to try and resolve the Catalonia crisis.
Carles Puigdemont labeled the election as a choice between “nation or submission” while speaking on a video link from Belgium to a rally in Barcelona on December 4.
He said voters must chose “between Catalan institutions or dark characters in Madrid”.
A seat reserved for the former leader at the event was marked with a yellow ribbon, an emblem that has become a symbol of support for the jailed politicians.
All but one of the thirteen Catalan leaders sacked by the Spanish government after the independence referendum are standing for election again in the fresh vote.
A new opinion poll, conducted by the Spanish Centre for Sociological Research (CIS) in late November, suggests that pro-independence parties will fall narrowly short of an absolute majority in the December election.
Carles Puidgemont and Orial Junqueras’ pro-separatist parties are campaigning separately in the new vote, after a divide emerged over the future of the region following the nulled referendum.
The parties ran together in the 2015 election when separatist parties won an overall majority in the Catalan parliament when they won 72 seats.
Carles Puigdemont was the president of the autonomous region of Catalonia until the proclamation of independence and continues to regard himself as the president of the newly proclaimed “Republic of Catalonia”.
The ousted and his colleagues travelled to Belgium to raise their case for statehood at the EU institutions and he insists he is not trying to evade “real justice”.
During an interview with Belgian TV, aired on November 3, Carles Puigdemont that he would co-operate with Belgian judicial authorities.
He also said that he was ready to run in snap regional elections in Catalonia next month.
The other four warrants are for: ex-agriculture minister Meritxell Serret, ex-health minister Antoni Comín, ex-culture minister Lluís Puig and ex-education minister Clara Ponsatí.
The warrants were sent to Belgian prosecutors, who have 24 hours to decide whether the paperwork is correct.
If they do, they will forward them on to a judge who will decide whether Carles Puigdemont and the four others should be arrested.
Belgium has a maximum of 60 days to return the suspects to Spain after arrest. However, if the suspects do not raise legal objections, a transfer could happen much sooner.
A country can reject an EU arrest warrant if it fears that extradition would violate the suspect’s human rights.
Discrimination based on politics, religion or race is grounds for refusal. So are fears that the suspect would not get a fair trial.
There is an agreed EU list of 32 offences – in Article Two of the EAW law – for which there is no requirement for the offence to be a crime in both countries. In other words, any of those offences can be a justification for extradition, provided the penalty is at least three years in jail.
However, neither “sedition” nor “rebellion” – two of the Spanish accusations against the Catalan leaders – are on that list.
Thousands of Catalans have taken the streets of Barcelona to protest against the detention of eight regional ministers sacked over Catalonia’s push for independence from Spain.
The eight officials – who appeared in Spain’s high court – are accused of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.
Prosecutors are also seeking a European Arrest Warrant for ousted Catalonia’s President Carles Puigdemont, who did not show up in court and is now in Belgium.
The request also covers four other ex-ministers who ignored the summons.
Spain has been gripped by a constitutional crisis since a referendum on independence from Spain was held in Catalonia on October 1 in defiance of a constitutional court ruling that had declared it illegal.
Last week, Spain’s PM Mariano Rajoy imposed direct rule on Catalonia, dissolving the regional parliament and calling local elections for December 21.
This came after Catalonia’s parliament voted to declare the independence of the affluent north-eastern region.
The Catalan government said that of the 43% of potential voters who took part in the referendum, 90% were in favor of independence.
On November 2, thousands of people gathered outside Catalonia’s regional parliament in Barcelona.
Many carried Catalan flags and slogans that read “Freedom for political prisoners”.
Similar protest rallies were held in other Catalan towns.
Political parties and civic groups in the affluent north-eastern region also condemned the judicial move.
Nine out of 14 summoned Catalan ex-ministers appeared before Judge Carmen Lamela.
The judge said they had to be detained because they might otherwise leave the country or destroy evidence.
Those who were held are: ex-Deputy Vice-President Oriol Junqueras, ex-Interior Minister Joaquim Forn, ex-Foreign Affairs Minister Raül Romeva, ex-Justice Minister Carles Mundó, ex-Labour Minister Dolors Bassa, ex-Government Presidency Councillor Jordi Turull, ex-Sustainable Development Minister Josep Rull and ex-Culture Minister Meritxell Borras.
The ninth official, ex-Business Minister Santi Vila, was granted bail at the request of prosecutors. He quit before the Catalan parliament voted for independence on October 27.
In addition to Carles Puigdemont, prosecutors have asked Spain’s high court judge to issue European arrest warrants for the following Catalan officials: ex-Agriculture Minister Meritxell Serret, Ex-Health Minister Antoni Comín, ex-Culture Minister Lluís Puig, Ex-Education Minister Clara Ponsatí.
Five other senior members of the Catalan parliament, as well as Speaker Carme Forcadell, are facing the same charges but, because of their parliamentary immunity, their cases are being handled by the Supreme Court.
Their hearings have been postponed until November 9.
In a statement broadcast on Catalan TV from an undisclosed location in Belgium, Carles Puigdemont described the detentions as “an act that breaks with the basic principles of democracy”.
“I demand the release of the ministers and the vice-president,” he added.
Carles Puigdemont, who was spotted in a Brussels cafe on November 2, has said he will not return to Spain unless he receives guarantees of a fair trial. He did not specify his exact demands.
According to Efe news agency, Belgium’s federal prosecutor has said the law will be applied once an arrest warrant is received.
Carles Puigdemont’s lawyer said the climate was “not good” for him to appear in court, but he also said his client would co-operate with the authorities in Spain and Belgium.
Eight dismissed members of Catalonia’s regional government are facing jail over their role in October’s disputed independence referendum, Madrid prosecutors said.
Meanwhile, nine Catalan officials testified at Spain’s high court over accusations of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.
Ousted Catalonia’s President Carles Puigdemont and four others disregarded a summons.
Carles Puigdemont, who is in Belgium, said the trial was “political”.
Spain has been gripped by a constitutional crisis since the referendum was held on October 1 in defiance of a constitutional court ruling that had declared it illegal.
Last week, Spain’s PM Mariano Rajoy imposed direct rule on Catalonia, dissolving the regional parliament and calling snap local elections for December 21.
This came after Catalan lawmakers voted to declare independence of the north-eastern region.
The Catalan government said that of the 43% of potential voters who took part in the referendum, 90% were in favor of independence.
Prosecutors asked the high court judge to jail eight of the nine members who turned up for questioning.
Those included dismissed deputy leader Oriol Junqueras, Interior Minister Joaquin Forn, foreign affairs chief Raül Romeva and spokesman Jordi Turull.
The ninth, Catalonia’s former business minister Santi Vila, should be granted a €50,000 ($58,000) bail, prosecutors said. He resigned before the Catalan parliament voted for independence on October 27.
The Catalan leaders are yet to be formally charged. They were accused of rebellion – which carries a maximum 30-year jail term – as well as sedition and misuse of funds.
A judge will decide whether the officials should go to jail, pending an investigation that could potentially lead to a trial.
The judge can also grant them conditional bail and order them to surrender their passports.
Five dismissed Catalan officials stayed in Brussels, including Carles Puigdemont, who had previously said he would not return to Spain if he and his colleagues did not receive unspecified guarantees of a fair trial.
Reports suggest some of them requested to appear before the judges via video conference.
Carles Puigdemont’s Belgian lawyer told Reuters that he would co-operate with the authorities in Spain and Belgium, but did not appear before the judges because “the climate is not good”.
The dismissed leader’s handling of the crisis has drawn criticism among some other Catalan politicians, with left-wing parliamentary deputy Joan Josep Nuet criticizing him for creating “yet more bewilderment”.
Meanwhile, five other senior members of the Catalan parliament, as well as speaker Carme Forcadell, are facing the same charges but, because of their parliamentary immunity, their cases are being handled by the Supreme Court.
Their hearings have been postponed until November 9.
If those Catalan politicians appearing in court are denied bail it will cause further anger among those who want Catalonia to break away.
The court summons also gave them three days to pay a deposit of €6.2 million ($7.2 million) to cover potential liabilities.
Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puidgemont and 13 other members of his dismissed government have been summoned to appear in Spain’s high court later this week.
The court also gave them three days to pay a deposit of €6.2 million to cover potential liabilities.
The summons comes after Spain’s chief prosecutor said he would press charges including rebellion.
Carles Puigdemont is in Belgium with several former ministers. He earlier said he was not there to seek asylum.
Catalonia’s dismissed president triggered a crisis in Spain by holding an independence referendum on October 1 in the semi-autonomous region despite Madrid’s opposition and the Constitutional Court declaring the vote illegal.
Carles Puigdemont turned up in Brussels on October 30 as Spanish Attorney-General José Manuel Maza called for Catalan leaders to face charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.
The Audiencia National has now summoned the dismissed Catalan officials – who are yet to be formally charged – to testify on November 2 and 3. If they do not appear, prosecutors could order their arrest.
Meanwhile, the speaker of Catalan’s dissolved parliament Carme Forcadell and other former lawmakers have been summoned to the Supreme Court because they still have parliamentary immunity.
Carles Puigdemont earlier said he would return to Spain if guaranteed a fair hearing.
Several of Carles Puigdemont’s former colleagues who remain inside the country may decide to accept the summons and appear in court.
Prosecutors’ arguments against the group were “serious, rational and logical”, Judge Carmen Lamela said in a ruling, according to the AFP.
The charge of rebellion carries a maximum 30-year jail term.
Speaking at a press conference earlier on October 31, Carles Puigdemont said he was not trying to escape justice by travelling to Belgium but wanted to be able to speak freely.
Carles Puigdemont’s comments came as Spain’s constitutional court suspended the declaration of independence made by the Catalan parliament on October 27.
The former leader also said he would accept the result of snap elections in Catalonia on December 21, which were called by Spain’s central government after it invoked Article 155 of the constitution, temporarily suspending the region’s autonomy.
He told reporters: “I want a clear commitment from the state. Will the state respect the results that could give separatist forces a majority?”
Spain’s central government has previously said Carles Puigdemont is welcome to take part in the fresh polls.
Spain’s central government has said it would welcome the participation of sacked Catalan President Carles Puigdemont in new elections.
Madrid has ordered that fresh elections for the regional parliament of Catalonia should take place in December.
The central government suspended Catalonia’s autonomy after the Catalan parliament voted to declare independence.
Carles Puigdemont is urging “democratic opposition” to direct rule from Madrid.
He condemned the suspension of Catalonia’s autonomy and promised to continue to “work to build a free country”.
Spain has been gripped by a constitutional crisis since an independence referendum, organized by Carles Puigdemont’s separatist government, was held on October 1 in defiance of a ruling by the Constitutional Court which had declared it illegal.
The Catalan government said that of the 43% of potential voters who took part, 90% were in favor of independence.
On October 27, Catalonia’s parliament declared independence, with the central government responding by declaring the move illegal.
Spain’s PM Mariano Rajoy then announced the dissolution of the regional parliament and the removal of Carles Puigdemont as Catalan leader, and ordered that fresh regional elections should be held.
A large anti-independence demonstration is expected to take place on October 29 in Barcelona, Catalonia’s regional capital.
The political crisis will also be played out on the soccer pitch in the afternoon when Real Madrid, the defending Spanish champions, travel to Catalonia to play Girona, the team supported by Carles Puigdemont.
A central government spokesman in Madrid, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, said Carles Puigdemont had the right to continue in politics, despite his removal from office.
“I’m quite sure that if Puigdemont takes part in these elections, he can exercise this democratic opposition,” Íñigo Méndez de Vigo said, quoted by Reuters.
“The Catalans will be able to say what they feel about what they’ve been seeing in this last year, with all sorts of failing the law, abusing the law and putting themselves outside the law,” the official added.
Íñigo Méndez de Vigo spoke after Carles Puigdemont, in a pre-recorded address to Catalans on October 28, said the central government’s actions were “premeditated aggression” that ran “contrary to the expressed will of the citizens of our country, who know perfectly well that in a democracy it is parliaments that choose, or remove, presidents”.
He added: “We continue persevering in the only attitude that can make us winners. Without violence, without insults, in an inclusive way, respecting people and symbols, opinions, and also respecting the protests of the Catalans who do not agree with what the parliamentary majority has decided.”
A poll published by El Pais on October 28 suggests more Catalans (52% to 43%) are in favor of the dissolution of the regional parliament and the holding of elections.
Fifty-five per cent of Catalan respondents opposed the declaration of independence, with 41% in favor.
The crisis began on October 1, when Catalan leaders held an independence referendum, defying a ruling by the Constitutional Court which had declared it illegal.
According to the Catalan government, of the 43% of potential voters who took part, 90% were in favor of independence. Others boycotted the vote after the court ruling.
On October 27, the Catalan regional parliament voted to declare independence from Spain.
Soon after, the Spanish Senate granted Mariano Rajoy’s government the power to impose direct rule on Catalonia.
It did so on October 28 by publishing an official bulletin that dismissed Carles Puigdemont and all government members.
The announcement came hours after Spain’s government removed Josep Lluís Trapero Álvarez as chief of Catalonia’s autonomous Mossos police force.
Josep Lluís Trapero Álvarez was already under investigation for sedition, accused of failing to help Spain’s Guardia Civil police tackle thousands of pro-independence protesters in Barcelona during the run-up to the referendum.
Pere Soler i Campins, the Mossos director general, has also been dismissed.
Regional elections are scheduled for December 21.
Carles Puigdemont has urged supporters to “maintain the momentum” in a peaceful manner, but Spanish prosecutors say they will file charges of “rebellion” against him next week.
Separatists say the independence move means they no longer fall under Spanish jurisdiction.
However, Spain’s Constitutional Court is likely to declare it illegal, while the EU, the US, the UK, Germany and France all expressed support for Spanish unity.
Spanish law dictates that elections must be held within six months of Article 155 being triggered, but the prime minister said it was imperative that the vote be held much sooner.
Catalonia’s regional government held a referendum to ask residents of the region if they wanted to break away from Spain.
Of the 43% of Catalans said to have taken part, 90% voted in favor of independence. However, many anti-independence supporters boycotted the ballot, arguing it was not valid.
Carles Puigdemont and other regional leaders then signed a declaration of independence, but immediately suspended it in order to allow for talks.
He then defied two deadlines set by the national government to clarify Catalonia’s position, and the government announced it would pursue Article 155.
Article 155 of the Spanish constitution allows the national government to impose direct rule over Spain’s semi-autonomous regions in the event of a crisis. It has never before been invoked in democratic Spain.
The article says that if a region’s government “acts in a way that seriously threatens the general interest of Spain”, Madrid can “take necessary measures to oblige it forcibly to comply”.
Catalonia currently enjoys significant autonomy from Spain, including control over its own policing, education and healthcare.
Mariano Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party (PP) holds a majority in the Senate, meaning the proposals are likely to pass.
Catalonia accounts for about a fifth of Spain’s economic output, and supporters of independence say the region contributes too much to the national economy.
Opponents argue that Catalonia is stronger as a part of Spain, and that breaking away would lead to economic disaster for the country as a whole.
Nearly 1,200 companies based in Catalonia have re-registered in other parts of Spain since the referendum, hoping to minimize instability, according to the AFP.
This week, Spain cut its national growth forecast for 2018 from 2.6% to 2.3%, blaming uncertainty over the future of Catalan independence.
Spain is prepared to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy on October 21, as its leader, Carles Puigdemont, threatened to declare independence.
The government said ministers would meet to activate Article 155 of the constitution, allowing it to take over running of the region.
Carles Puigdemont said earlier the Catalan parliament would vote on independence, backed in a disputed referendum on October 1, if Spain “continues repression”.
Some fear the moves could spark unrest.
The government statement said: “The Spanish government will continue with the procedures outlined in Article 155 of the Constitution to restore legality in Catalonia’s self-government.
“It denounces the attitude maintained by those in charge of the Generalitat [Catalan government] to seek, deliberately and systematically, institutional confrontation despite the serious damage that is being caused to the coexistence and the economic structure of Catalonia.
“No-one doubts that the Spanish government will do all it can to restore the constitutional order.”
Article 155 of Spain’s 1978 constitution, which cemented democratic rule after the death of General Franco three years earlier, allows Madrid to impose direct rule in a crisis but it has never been invoked.
Political leaders in Madrid and Barcelona, Catalonia’s capital, have been engaged in a tense stand-off since the disputed referendum, which Catalan leaders say resulted in a “Yes” vote for independence but which Spain’s supreme court regards as illegal.
Spain’s PM Mariano Rajoy set the deadline of 10:00 local time for Carles Puigdemont to offer a definitive answer on the independence question, and called on him to “act sensibly”.
The prime minister said in parliament on October 18: “It’s not that difficult to reply to the question: has Catalonia declared independence? Because if it has, the government is obliged to act in one way, and if it has not, we can talk here.”
This was the second and final deadline, as Madrid says Carles Puigdemont on October 16 failed to clarify whether he had declared independence.
PM Mariano Rajoy is due to attend an EU summit in Brussels on October 19.
On October 21, the government will be expected to draw up a list of specific measures under Article 155 of the constitution, launching the transfer of powers from Catalonia to Madrid.
Following the October 1 referendum, Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont signed a declaration of independence, but halted its implementation to allow negotiations.
Carles Puigdemont has called for talks to take place over the next two months.
However, the Spanish government has warned that Catalonia must revoke the declaration or face direct rule from Madrid.
Carles Puigdemont has also angered Madrid by refusing to clarify whether or not he declared independence last week.
The Catalan president, who has been given until October 19 to clarify his position, hit out at the government on Twitter following news of Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart’s detention.
“Spain jails Catalonia’s civil society leaders for organizing peaceful demonstrations. Sadly, we have political prisoners again,” he wrote.
In a video recorded before his court appearance and released on his Twitter account after his detention, Jordi Cuixart instructs separatists to “never lose hope because the people of Catalonia have earned their future”.
Catalan leaders, including President Carles Puigdemont, have signed a declaration of independence from Spain, following the October 1 disputed referendum.
However, the Catalan leaders say the move will not be implemented immediately to allow talks with the Spanish central government.
It is unclear whether the document – calling for Catalonia to be recognized as an “independent and sovereign state” – has any legal status.
The move was immediately dismissed by the Spain’s government.
Catalonia independence referendum – which Catalan leaders say resulted in a Yes vote for independence – was declared invalid by Spain’s Constitutional Court.
Earlier in the day, Carles Puigdemont told the Catalan parliament in Barcelona that the region had won the right to be independent as a result of the referendum.
According to Catalan officials, the referendum resulted in almost 90% of voters backing independence. However, anti-independence voters largely boycotted the ballot – which had a reported turnout of 43% – and there were several reports of irregularities.
National police were involved in violent scenes as they manhandled voters while implementing the legal ruling banning the referendum.
The declaration reads: “We call on all states and international organizations to recognize the Catalan republic as an independent and sovereign state.”
Carles Puigdemont told the regional parliament that the “people’s will” was to break away from Madrid, but he also said he wanted to “de-escalate” the tension around the issue.
“We are all part of the same community and we need to go forward together. The only way forward is democracy and peace,” the Catalan president told deputies.
He also said Catalonia was being denied the right to self-determination, and paying too much in taxes to the central government in Madrid.
Spain’s Deputy PM Soraya Saenz de Santamaria responded to the declaration by saying: “Neither Mr. Puigdemont nor anybody else can claim… to impose mediation.
“Any dialogue between democrats has to take place within the law.”
Spain’s PM Mariano Rajoy has called an extraordinary cabinet meeting for October 11 to address the latest moves in the crisis.
Independence supporters had been sharing the Catalan hashtag #10ODeclaració (10 October Declaration) on Twitter, amid expectations that Carles Puigdemont would ask parliament to declare independence on the basis of the referendum law it passed last month.
However, influential figures including Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau and European Council President Donald Tusk had urged Carles Puigdemont to step back from declaring independence.
Catalonia, a region of Spain for centuries but with its own distinct language and culture, enjoys broad autonomy under the Spanish constitution.
However, a 2005 amendment redefining the region as a “nation”, boosting the status of the Catalan language and increasing local control over taxes and the judiciary, was reversed by the Constitutional Court in 2010.
The economic crisis further fuelled discontent and pro-independence parties took power in the region in the 2015 elections.
Catalonia is one of Spain’s wealthiest regions, accounting for a quarter of the country’s exports. However, a stream of companies have announced plans to move their head offices out of Catalonia in response to the crisis.
The EU has made clear that should Catalonia split from Spain, the region would cease to be part of the European Union.
President of the Generalitat of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont says the Spanish region has won the right to statehood following a contentious referendum that was marred by violence.
Carles Puigdemont, 54, said the door had been opened to a unilateral declaration of independence.
According to Catalan officials, 90% of those who voted backed independence on October 1. The turnout was 42.3%.
Spain’s constitutional court had banned the vote and hundreds of people were injured as police used force to try to block voting.
Officers seized ballot papers and boxes at polling stations.
Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy said Catalans had been fooled into taking part in an illegal vote.
According to Catalan authorities, more than 2.2 million people were reported to have voted, out of 5.3 million registered voters. A Catalan spokesman said more than 750,000 votes could not be counted because polling stations were closed and urns were confiscated.
In a TV address, Carles Puigdemont said: “With this day of hope and suffering, the citizens of Catalonia have won the right to an independent state in the form of a republic.
“My government in the next few days will send the results of today’s vote to the Catalan parliament, where the sovereignty of our people lies, so that it can act in accordance with the law of the referendum.”
He said the EU could no longer “continue to look the other way”.
Meanwhile, PM Mariano Rajoy spoke of a “mockery” of democracy.
“At this hour I can tell you in the strongest terms what you already know and what we have seen throughout this day. There has not been a referendum on self-determination in Catalonia,” he said.
Large crowds of independence supporters gathered in the centre of the regional capital Barcelona on Sunday evening, waving flags and singing the Catalan anthem. Anti-independence protesters have also held rallies in Barcelona and other Spanish cities.
In another development, more than 40 trade unions and Catalan associations called a region-wide strike on October 3 due to “the grave violation of rights and freedoms”.
TV footage showed Spanish police kicking would-be voters and pulling women out of polling stations by their hair.
Catalan medical officials said 844 people had been hurt in clashes, including 33 police. The majority had minor injuries or had suffered from anxiety attacks.
In Girona, riot police smashed their way into a polling station where Carles Puigdemont was due to vote, and forcibly removed those inside. He voted at another station.
TV footage showed riot police using batons to beat a group of firefighters who were protecting crowds in Girona.
The national police and Guardia Civil – a military force charged with police duties – were sent into Catalonia in large numbers to prevent the vote.
The Catalan police – the Mossos d’Esquadra – have been placed under Madrid’s control, however witnesses said they showed little inclination to use force on protesters.
Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau condemned police actions against the region’s “defenseless” population, but Spain’s Deputy PM Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said police had “acted with professionalism and in a proportionate way”.
Catalan authorities said 319 of about 2,300 polling stations across the region had been closed by police while the Spanish government said 92 stations had been sealed off.
Since September 29, thousands of people have occupied schools and other buildings designated as polling stations in order to keep them open.
Many of those inside were parents and their children, who remained in the buildings after the end of lessons on September 29 and bedded down in sleeping bags on gym mats.
The anti-independence Societat Civil said there were voting irregularities, including the same people voting twice.
Catalonia is a wealthy region of 7.5 million people in north-eastern Spain and has its own language and culture.
However, Catalonia has a high degree of autonomy, but is not recognized as a separate nation under the Spanish constitution.
Catalonia’s assembly is due to choose a new regional president after Artur Mas stepped down and pro-independence parties reached an agreement to form a coalition.
The anti-capitalist CUP party and the Junts pel Si (Together for Yes) alliance are expected to elect Carles Puigdemont as regional president.
The two sides had disagreed over whether Artur Mas could continue as Catalan president following elections.
Artur Mas has stepped aside in favor of Carles Puigdemont to avoid new elections.
Disagreements between secessionist parties, which gained a majority in September’s regional polls, have blocked the formation of a new Catalan government.
Artur Mas has been in power since 2010 and heads Junts pel Si, which won 62 of the 135 seats. However, the CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy), which holds 10 seats, has refused to support him.
Carles Puigdemont is the mayor of the town of Girona.
Nationally, Spain faces weeks of political uncertainty after an inconclusive general election on December 20.
In November, the Catalan parliament voted to start the secession process – a move declared unconstitutional by Spain’s conservative Popular Party (PP), 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 (PSOE), who came first and second respectively in Spain’s general election, oppose Catalan secession.