Catalonia separatists reach government deal

Catalonia's two main separatist parties have struck a power-sharing deal, ending more than three months of wrangling following regional elections in February, local media reported. The coalition deal was announced by the left-wing republican party ERC and the liberal-conservative JuntsxCat, according to La Vanguardia and El Pais newspapers.

The regional government is to be led by Pere Aragones of the ERC. The radical left-wing CUP, which is also pro-independence, expressed its support for Aragones, but is not expected to be part of the coalition. ERC and JuntsxCat apologised for the long government formation process and promised to "govern for all and make progress on the common goal of independence," according to a statement. The three separatist parties had won 74 of 135 seats in Barcelona's regional parliament in the February elections.

The anti-separatist Socialists, who won the biggest single share of the vote, said the coalition would only govern "for half of Catalonia," El Pais reported. The economically powerful province is deeply divided on the issue of seeking independence from Spain, a move fiercely opposed by Madrid.

Following an illegal independence referendum, the federal government placed Catalonia under emergency measures in autumn 2017. The regional president at the time, Carles Puigdemont, fled to exile in Belgium. Many separatists were sentenced to long prison terms.

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