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Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont 'to call snap regional elections'

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Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont 'to call snap regional elections'

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Catalan president Carles Puigdemont is set to call a snap regional election, political allies said, a move that could help break a one-month deadlock between the Madrid government and separatists seeking a split from Spain.

The uncertainty remained high however as Puigdemont who had announced he would deliver an address at 1.30 p.m. (1130 GMT), first delayed it by one hour and then cancelled it, triggering speculation he could still change his mind.

Several members of his pro-independence coalition said he would dissolve the regional parliament and call the vote. The regional broadcaster said he would deliver a speech in the assembly at 5 p.m., as had initially been planned.

Barcelona-based La Vanguardia said he would call the vote for Dec. 20 and was taking the decision in a bid to persuade the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy not to enforce direct rule in the region, which he might do as soon as Friday.

The Catalan secessionist drive is Spain’s worst political crisis since the military dictatorship of Francisco Franco ended in 1975. It has fractured society and hundreds of companies have left the region.

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