Mr. Rajoy is at the helm of a minority government and is himself under pressure from Ciudadanos, a party whose support he depends on, to keep Catalonia under direct rule until separatist lawmakers fully relinquished their independence plan.
Mr. Rajoy also warned Mr. Torra against leading Catalonia back into illegality by reviving a secessionist agenda that violates the Spanish Constitution. “What I’ve heard in recent hours hasn’t pleased me, but as I’ve made clear, I will judge actions,” Mr. Rajoy said on Monday.
Yet under the powers that Mr. Rajoy sought last October from the Spanish Senate, he committed to lifting direct rule once Catalonia held new elections, which took place in December, and lawmakers then voted a new regional president into office.
Mr. Torra failed to secure enough votes in the first round of parliamentary voting on Saturday. But he overcame that hurdle in a second round, in which the vote threshold was lower.
Sixty-six of the 135 members of the Catalan Parliament supported Mr. Torra’s presidency, and 65 voted against. As expected, the four lawmakers of a far-left party, the Popular Unity Candidacy, abstained from the voting.
The party has a played a pivotal role in Catalonia’s independence drive and is expected to pressure Mr. Torra to forge ahead with unilateral secession, despite the botched declaration of independence last October.
Mr. Torra is expected to take office in the coming days, after Mr. Rajoy and King Felipe VI officially sign his appointment into law.