Separtist politician elected head of Catalonian government

A separatist politician who has vowed to push for the independence of the north-eastern Spanish region of Catalonia was elected head of the regional government on Sunday.

Carles Puigdemont was elected by the regional parliament in a 70-63 more than three months after regional parliamentary elections.

Puigdemont, 53, pledged to push forward with push forward with an independence bid for Spain's most economically strong region, but the national government in Madrid said it would not allow Catalonia to secede under any circumstances. The separatists have said they would like to declare independence from Spain with 18 months.

"We have more means than ever before to ensure the unity of the nation," Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said in televised remarks. "The Spanish people can rest assured."

The vote followed a last-minute deal between the separatist parties to avert fresh elections if a premier was not chosen before a midnight deadline.

The Together for Yes (Junts pel Si) alliance of separatist parties rallied behind Puigdemont after ceding to demand from the leftist CUP party that its acting President Artur Mas step down.

The left-leaning alliance secured the most votes in September regional elections, but fell short of an absolute majority and was forced to forge an alliance with the anti-capitalist CUP party. Catalonia had been without a government since elections in September before the separatist parties hammered out a deal on Saturday.

Mas stepped aside after weeks of negotiation, declaring at a press conference that he would "step aside to bring (Catalonia) forward."

Puigdemont, the mayor of the Catalan town of Girona, is a former journalist, who founded the Catalan News Agency in 1998 and also led the English-language regional newspaper Catalonia Today.

Last update: Mon, 11/01/2016 - 00:25

More from Europe

Slovenian interior minister says Geneva convention outdated

Slovenia will not let others run its asylum policy and mange its borders, and the Geneva convention on refugees is...

Trump win causes right-wing hearts to soar at meeting in Germany

Looking west the day after US President Donald Trump's inauguration, European right-wing party leaders who had...

Hundreds protest in Berlin in solidarity with US Women's March

Hundreds are staging a demonstration for women's rights in front of the US embassy in Berlin, on the same day that a...

Five dead, 23 missing after avalanche hits Italian hotel

The death toll in an avalanche that buried a hotel in Italy earlier this week has risen to five and 23 people are...

Official: Attack was imminent, possibly on Vienna underground

Police foiled an imminent attack, possibly on the Vienna underground, when they arrested a radicalized 18-year-old,...