New secessionist leader vows to push Catalonia independence cause
The candidate set to lead Catalonia's government pledged to forge ahead with a drive to secede from Spain before a vote late Sunday to approve him as president of the region's parliament.
During a pre-vote debate, Carles Puigdemont said he would continue with his predecessor Artur Mas' initiative to push the region bordering France toward independence by 2017.
Mr Puigdemont was selected Saturday to replace Mr Mas as the Together For Yes alliance's candidate for leader, a decision that earned him the backing of the radical, anti-capitalist CUP party whose 10 seats were needed for a majority in the chamber.
The CUP refused to back Mr Mas in his bid to retain the presidency.
The Spanish government considers the secessionist initiative to be unconstitutional and has used the judiciary to challenge it.
Acting prime minister Mariano Rajoy, whose Popular Party won the most votes in a December 20 ballot but has so far failed to get a majority in parliament, said late on Sunday that Spain would not allow Catalan leaders to "grant themselves unlimited powers".
With the debate in the Catalan parliament still ongoing, Mr Rajoy spoke on nationwide television to say he had contacted most of Spain's other political parties and agreed with their leaders that secessionism would not be tolerated.
"We have known how to set aside our differences to defend the unity of the nation," Mr Rajoy said.
Mr Rajoy said Spain's courts had already ruled against Catalonia's pro-independence move, declaring it unlawful.