Catalonia crisis: what next?

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Catalonia crisis: what next?

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The crisis in Catalonia seems to be getting more complex every day.

The Spanish region this week postponed the election of a new president, after the country's highest court said separatist leader Carles Puigdemont, the sole nominee, was ineligible as long as he remains in exile in Belgium.

Our correspondent in Barcelona, Cristina Giner, spoke to two experts about what might happen next.

"The speaker of the parliament can postpone the plenary until the constitutional court decides whether or not to allow online investiture," said Argelia Queralt, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Barcelona.

"Precedents suggest it will not, but we have to wait and see if the speaker of the parliament accepts the Constitutional Court's decision and proposes a new candidacy -- then the clock restarts in terms of deadlines."

"From a legal point of view, when there is a new government, article 155 (which imposes direct rule on Catalonia) is lifted. That's why it's so important for the regional president to form a government: so the institutions can return to normality. It doesn't mean giving up on having a pro-independence president, but returning to the constitutional fold and to political dialogue with the central government, which is absolutely necessary."

The decision of the speaker of the Catalan parliament, Roger Torrent, to postpone the election debate has raised tension among separatist parties. Now the leak of text messages from Puigdemont admitting political defeat could deepen the divide.

Gabriel Colomé is a professor of political science at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. He expects the growing divisions will lead to new elections in Catalonia.

"For the first time, we have seen in public the fracture, the divorce between the pro-independence Republican Left of Catalonia, and Carles Puigdemont's Junts party -- between the party of former vice president Oriol Junqueras and Puigdemont's coalition. We saw this fracture when the speaker of parliament decided to postpone the election without notice. It became clear that the ties between these parties are now very much broken."

"If they try to push him aside, Puigdemont can also block the attempt because he has 15-16 MPs who can abstain from endorsing a new candidate - who in this case will never get the presidency. So, it's either him or we go back to the polls because it seems he's the one who effectively controls the political direction of the parliament."