In October, prime minister Mariano Rajoy took direct control of Catalonia, jailing its leaders and dissolving its parliament after Catalan president Carles Puigdemont declared independence in October. Puigdemont is now in exile in Belgium.
Rajoy forced a new election, but the results are the same.
Back in Control
Pro-independence parties took control of the Catalan parliament on Wednesday in what they hailed as the first step towards restoring the regional government after almost three months of direct rule from Madrid.
Celebrations erupted among flag-waving supporters in Barcelona as Roger Torrent, of the pro-independence Republican Left (ERC), was voted head of the speaker’s committee, the chamber’s decision-making body.
Addressing the chamber, Mr. Torrent denounced the legal proceedings against much of the pro-independence leadership. He said the imprisonment of three parliamentarians - including Oriol Junqueras, the former vice president and ERC leader - was “absolutely unjustified, and impedes them being able to freely exercise their rights”.
Opposition parties had tried to thwart the election of Mr. Torrent with a request - swiftly denied - that the parliament reject delegated votes from the three jailed politicians, whose empty seats were marked with yellow ribbons. Mr. Puigdemont and four former cabinet members in self-imposed exile in Brussels dropped their attempts to vote via delegates after Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, warned he would appeal such a move at the Constitutional Court.
Parliament Reconvenes Pro-Independence Groups Win
Separatist lawmakers secured control of parliament on Wednesday with the election of Mr. Torrent, a member of the left-wing separatist ERC party. He beat an anti-independence candidate by 65 votes to 56.
The session was broadcast to a flag-waving crowd outside.
ERC's leader, Oriol Junqueras, is among three Catalan MPs in prison awaiting trial over the independence push. But they were allowed to vote to select a parliamentary speaker via proxies. Five others in self-imposed exile in Belgium did not assign proxies. Yellow ribbons were placed on their empty seats.
The MPs also met to select a board who will decide who gets the first chance to form a government. It will have two weeks to pick a president. It is likely to nominate Mr. Puigdemont to lead the region, and his supporters say he could potentially do so via video link from Belgium.
Mr Puigdemont's spokesman, Joan Maria Piqué, told the BBC's Gavin Lee that it was perfectly plausible for him to be president remotely. He pointed to how Donald Trump uses Twitter as a prime source of interaction in the US.
But lawyers for the Catalan parliament council, an advisory body, have said it would not be legal or within the Spanish constitution to allow for a president in exile.
Mainstream media, Mariano Rajoy, and the EU are silent. The only news is from the BBC, the Financial Times, and The Telegraph.
The real vote was 70-56 as five in exile did not vote.
To the dismay of Rajoy, the non-aligned Comu-Podem sat the vote out. Comu-Podem does not favor independence but they do favor an honest vote on the matter.
The people have spoken, again. I am quite pleased with this result.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock