Radical Catalan separatist anointed by ousted president as successor

Former Catalan President renounces leadership from exile

Madrid blocks second Puigdemont comeback bid in Catalonia

Radical leftists say they will not block separatist candidate.

If CUP abstains in the second vote, a simple majority will be enough to see Torra elected as the 131st leader of the region and bring an end to the central Spanish government control which has been in place in Catalonia since October 27, 2017.

That day, Rajoy also sacked Puigdemont and all his ministers after the regional parliament declared independence following a referendum that wasn't sanctioned by Madrid and was banned by the courts.

Torra faces divisions within the separatist camp, composed of the CUP, the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) party and Puigdemont's Together for Catalonia grouping, according to Antonio Barroso, deputy research director at Teneo Intelligence.

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Torra's election would deliver an finish to the Spanish central authorities's takeover of regional affairs as a part of a crackdown after an unlawful declaration of independence by Catalonia's regional parliament in October.

Former leader Carles Puigdemont, now living in Germany, put forward little-known Catalan member of parliament Quim Torra as the new candidate in a televised address published on social networks late on Thursday.

The court announced on Wednesday evening it had ruled "admissible the appeal of the government" and suspended the reform, which had been temporarily blocked while the court deliberated.

Fresh polls will be triggered if a new leader is not elected by May 22.

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Catalonia is Spain's richest and most populous region.

Catalan pro-independence parties failed on Saturday for a fourth time to elect a regional leader, 10 days before the deadline to form a government or hold a new election.

The Spanish government said Mr Torra's speech was "confrontational".

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.

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