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Catalonia’s New Tack: Choosing a Leader Not Facing Prosecution

On Saturday, the 135-seat Parliament voted 66 to 65 in favor of Mr. Torra, just shy of a majority. On Monday, though, Mr. Torra will need simply to get more votes in favor of his candidacy than against.

A lawyer by training, Mr. Torra, 55, is also a book publisher with a long history of backing Catalan separatism. He was briefly the president of Omnium Cultural, one of Catalonia’s two main pro-independence associations. But because he has not been on the front line of Catalan politics and was not in Mr. Puigdemont’s cabinet, Mr. Torra is not among the 25 Catalans whom Spain wants to prosecute on charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.

The current Parliament was elected in December, in a vote called by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy after his national government thwarted the independence effort.

Catalonia’s New Tack: Choosing a Leader Not Facing Prosecution
Catalonia’s New Tack: Choosing a Leader Not Facing Prosecution

But the vote failed to deliver the result that Mr. Rajoy had sought. Instead, the three main Catalan separatist parties retained a narrow majority, 70 seats, and took 47.5 percent of the vote. That result was nearly identical to the previous election, in 2015.

The separatist parties have since been unable to form a government, largely because some of their more prominent lawmakers have been jailed in Madrid or have fled with Mr. Puigdemont to avoid prosecution.

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