Spain: New Catalan leader vows to keep up independence fight

MADRID (AP) — The parliament of Catalonia elected a new regional leader and government Friday, with the incoming administration vowing no let-up in the Catalan fight for independence from Spain.

Three Catalan separatist parties set aside their local policy differences and united behind their common desire for secession, voting for Pere Aragonès as the next chief in Catalonia, a region of 7.5 million that has Barcelona as its capital.

Aragonès, a 38-year-old lawyer who has been involved in Catalan politics for almost 20 years, studied at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and has previously held posts in the regional government.

A regional election was held in February but squabbling between separatist parties, which together captured more than half of the vote, delayed the formation of a government. They had disagreed on the best way to push for secession — a longstanding bone of contention among the separatists.

The new government’s goals include self-determination for Catalonia, a referendum on independence and an amnesty for the separatist leaders prosecuted after an outlawed independence ballot and doomed independence declaration more than three years ago.

Roughly 50% of Catalans want to carve out an independent state, while the other half want to remain a part of Spain.

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