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Ex-Catalan leader proposes new candidate to head regional government

Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has proposed his ally Quim Torra as candidate for head of a new government, potentially averting new regional elections as the May 22 deadline looms, the Financial Times reported.

Catalan lawmakers have to find a candidate before May 22 to avoid new elections. Previous attempts to elect a leader have been blocked in the Spanish courts as the proposed candidates were either in pre-trial detention or in exile.

"Our group proposes member of parliament Quim Torra to be president of the Catalan government so he can take on this responsibility in the next few days and so that a government can be formed immediately," Puigdemont said in a YouTube video May 10.

Puigdemont said he believed the pro-independence lawmaker would garner enough votes from Catalan lawmakers. Torra, a former head of the grassroots separatist group Omnium Cultural, also has no pending charges against him, the FT said.

No date for a vote has been set, with less than two weeks remaining before the May 22 deadline to pick a leader and form a government.

In December 2017, pro-independence parties regained their majority in parliament in the Catalan regional elections but have been unable to form a government since previously proposed candidates have been blocked because of legal problems.

Spain's Constitutional Court on May 9 also accepted a government appeal that blocked pro-independence politicians in Catalonia from once again voting in Puigdemont while he remains outside Spain, said the FT.