Catalonia’s two main separatist parties have agreed to support the re-election of ousted leader Carles Puigdemont as president, in a sign that pro-independence groups are eager to ratchet up the tension with Spain’s central government. The separatists’ agreement is the first significant step toward forming a new government in the restive Spanish region following regional elections Dec. 21. That vote was called after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy imposed direct rule on the region in October in an attempt to quell the separatists’ push to secede from Spain. When a new and law-abiding government is seated in Catalonia, Madrid has said it would end direct rule.
Pro-separatist parties won a slim majority of seats in the regional assembly. While that result promises to keep the campaign for independence alive, pro-independence forces must still overcome divisions to form a new government.
Two main pro-independence parties declared their support Wednesday for Mr. Puigdemont to return as head of the region. The separatist leader, who spearheaded a drive last autumn that culminated in a unilateral declaration of independence, enjoys great popularity among pro-independence voters, but is a polarizing figure both in Catalonia and the rest of Spain.