Catalan president loses second attempt to secure new term
The outgoing head of the Catalan government, Artur Mas, on Thursday failed again to garner enough support in the regional parliament to secure a new term following a September vote.
Mas, who has spearheaded Catalonia's drive to break away from Spain, won the backing of only the 62 lawmakers of his Together for Yes coalition, with the remaining 73 opposed.
The result mirrors the outcome of a first vote held in the 135-seat assembly on Tuesday.
Mas, 59, needs the support of the smaller, far-left separatist CUP party, which has 10 seats in the assembly, to secure a majority in favour of a second term.
But while the party shares his ambition of creating an independent Catalan republic, it is fiercely opposed to the austerity measures his government has introduced and is critical of corruption scandals that have tainted his CDC party.
Mas on Thursday promised a more cooperative governing style with the power of vice-presidents reinforced.
He also proposed putting his mandate to a confidence vote in the assembly in mid-2016 if he secured a second term.
The vote comes a day after Spain's Constitutional Court suspended a resolution passed by Catalonia's parliament on Monday that declared the start of a secession process in the wealthy northeastern region.
The resolution calls on the regional assembly to start working on legislation within 30 days to create a separate social security system and treasury, with a view to completing independence in 18 months.
It was passed with the votes of Mas's Together for Yes coalition and the CUP, which together have a majority of 75 seats in the assembly.
While Catalan separatist parties won a majority of seats in the regional parliament in the polls, they failed to win a majority of all votes cast -- a fact that Madrid has used to bolster its argument against secession.
The Catalan parliament has not set a date for a new vote and lawmakers have until January 9 to chose a new regional government head. If they fail, fresh elections will need to be held.
© 2015 AFP