Here is what has happened in Catalonia since the separatists defended their majority in the regional legislature in December.
- Lawmakers have elected Roger Torrent, a member of the second-largest independence party, the Republican Left, as speaker of parliament.
- Torrent has put forward Carles Puigdemont, the leader of the largest independence party, Together for Catalonia, for another term as regional president.
- Unionist parties have criticized the nomination with the liberal Citizens calling it “ridiculous” and the mainstream Socialists calling it an “error”. The reason: Puigemont is wanted by Spanish authorities for organizing an independence referendum in October that was ruled illegal by the Spanish Constitutional Court. He is now in Belgium.
- The Spanish government has said it would challenge an attempt to swear in Puigdemont by proxy or via video.
- Puigdemont has called on Spain to allow him to return: “It would be a first step toward restoring democracy.” But Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido has said that police are on alert to prevent Puigdemont’s surprise arrival in Catalonia.
- Torrent has asked for dialogue with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, a request that has so far gone unheeded.
- An investiture vote is due to be held on Wednesday next week. Puigdemont’s victory hinges on the support of the Popular Unity Candidacy, a small radical leftist party that wants to break away from Spain as soon as possible. Without it, Together for Catalonia and the Republican Left are two seats short of a majority.