Separatists fail to elect Catalonia's head of government

Photo: EPA Pere Aragones

Catalonia's lawmakers spent more than 10 hours in an effort to elect a new head of government - six weeks after the Spanish region voted for a new regional parliament - but came up empty in the first round.

As reported by dpa, separatist politician Pere Aragones from the left-wing republican party ERC was running for the top office. But, as expected, he fell far short of the 68 votes needed in the 138-seat regional parliament. In the end, Aragones only got the endorsement of 42 of his colleagues. The 38-year-old got 33 votes from of his own party and the nine deputies of the radical left CUP.

The equally separatist liberal-conservative JxCat, which has 32 seats, announced beforehand that it was abstaining from this vote, torpedoing Aragones' chances. Aragones had been seeking a coalition government with JxCat under his leadership and toleration by the CUP.

But Aragones will get another chance at the job next week.

While he needed an absolute majority of 68 deputies in Friday's first round of voting, a simple majority of the parliamentarians present would be sufficient in a second vote next Tuesday.

The three parties are united above all by the striving for independence of the economically strong region. Yet, there are major differences in many other policy areas, which makes agreement complicated and governing cumbersome.

In addition, JxCat demands that the legally non-existent "Council for the Republic," led by the former head of the regional government Carles Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium, should be responsible for independence policy. Puigdemont would then have the last word in a dialogue with Madrid, the newspaper El Periodico wrote.

The ERC, which is considered more willing to engage in dialogue with the central government is opposed to JxCat's demand.

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