The Parliament again failed to elect a head of government

The Parliament again failed to elect a head of government

Madrid successfully requested the Constitutional Court to cancel a reform voted for last week by Catalonia's majority separatist parliament that would allow Puigdemont - now in self-exile overseas - to be appointed president without having to be present.

Torra's election and the formation of a new government would close the latest chapter in the Catalan crisis, which reached its height a year ago when regional leaders held a disputed referendum on breaking away from Spain and then declared independence.

Torra was handpicked by Puigdemont, who stepped aside from the running, to continue his fight with Spain's central government to achieve Catalan independence.

Addressing the Catalan parliament on Saturday, Mr Torra, a staunch supporter of secession, vowed to work towards a Catalan republic and referred to Mr Puigdemont as the legitimate leader of the region.

The CUP, whose four parliamentarians abstained in the vote on Saturday, will meet on Sunday to decide how it will vote in the second round. Torra is a pro-independence lawmaker.

He was handpicked by the deposed former president, Carles Puigdemont, regarded by secessionists as the rightful leader but now in Germany facing extradition proceedings on rebellion charges.

Catalan politicians must pick a leader to form a government by May 22 to avert further elections, following a stand-off during which separatist politicians put forward candidates who were blocked by the courts for being either overseas or in jail, among them Mr Puigdemont.

But he has been a major cultural figure over the last decade pushing for the region to fully break from Spain.

He also called snap regional elections for December 21, which separatist parties went on to win, once again getting an absolute majority in parliament.

Only last month, hundreds of thousands of people marched in Barcelona to protest the jailing of nine Catalan separatist leaders who are facing trial on "rebellion" charges in Spain.

If a new Catalan government is not formed by May 22, fresh elections must be held. "He makes a call to clash, to have more confrontation", she said.

Puigdemont is free to move around Germany after being released from detention pending a German court decision on a Spanish extradition request, but he may not leave the country.