Catalonia: Madrid's direct rule ends with new Catalan government

Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez took over as Spain's Prime Minister on Friday from Mariano Rajoy

Catalonia's new separatist government will be sworn in Saturday, the regional presidency announced, which will spark the automatic end of Madrid's direct rule over the region. The new cabinet members appointed by president Quim Torra, assumed their posts, and Catalan government went back to work.

The Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez, now Madrid's new prime minister, had given Rajoy multiple chances to resign, but Rajoy chose to be forced out rather than to leave of his own accord.

Socialist Pedro Sanchez replaced Mariano Rajoy, who had been ousted following a corruption scandal.

Spain imposed direct rule over region in October after nationalists held vote to declare independence.

The German court of Schleswig-Holstein has suggested that there are no grounds to accept the extradition to Spain of Carles Puigdemont, the former Catalan president.

"Our "Yes" to Sanchez is a "No" to Rajoy", is how Mr Joan Tarda of the Catalan pro-independence party Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya put it in Parliament.

Along the way, Rajoy accumulated plenty of powerful enemies, especially in Spain's separatist regions, Catalonia most notably.

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Torra's call for talks came as his handpicked 13 councilors took oath in the regional presidency in Barcelona - some of them wearing yellow, the color that has come to symbolize the separatist cause.

The election result was a severe blow to the Spanish government.

Both sides have indeed said they want to talk.

Puigdemont is fighting extradition from Germany to Spain where he is sought on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds.

The parties that supported Mr Sanchez will make demands he will not meet, predicted Mr Pedro Fernandez, a 68-year-old pensioner, outside of Parliament. Then, when Rajoy's conservative Popular Party was ousted, Sanchez pounced. The motion was orchestrated by the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE).

Spain is the euro zone's No. 4 economy and an influential member of the European Union.

Information for this article was contributed by Joseph Wilson of The Associated Press; and by Raphael Minder of The New York Times.

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