The new First Minister of Catalonia, Quim Torra (Together For Catalonia), and the former First Minister of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont (Together For Catalonia), gave a joint press conference, from Berlin, 24 hours after the new man was elected by the Catalan Parliament, in Barcelona.

The two men asked for dialogue with the Spanish government and and end to the suspension of home rule in the region. Mr. Torra said he had travelled to the German capital to "pay homage to the legitimate First Minister, Carles Puigdemont".

"My first aim in this new Catalan government is to offer dialogue to the Spanish government", said Mr. Torra: "Mr. Rajoy, set a time and a place", adding that he would write to the Prime Minister requesting talks.

He suggested central government moves to suspend home rule in the region stretched all the way back to Colonel Tejero's 1981 coup attempt, and that he wanted a "strong" regional government "to stand up to repression".

He repeated a common separatist claim that "there are political prisoners in Spain", in reference to nine former regional leaders in jail on remand near Madrid.

Of 28 senior former Catalan separatists investigated by the Supreme Court, nine are in jail, four are in self-imposed exile abroad—including Mr. Puigdemont—12 are free awaiting trial and charges were dropped against three others, including another former First Minister, Artur Mas.

All were being investigated, and 25 will now be tried, not for their political ideas but their roles in the events leading to the declaration of independence from Spain last October.

The charges are different combinations of rebellion, the misuse of public funds and contempt.

"The ball is in Spain's court", said Mr. Puigdemont, who added that "a sense of responsibility" was now needed.

"I hope Rajoy and the parties that support the suspension of home rule accept this offer to begin to talk."

Subscribe Now To Understand Spain Better, In English

Original, independent reporting and insight take you deeper into a changing country.

Spain is a fascinating country, its history full of intriguing characters and events, and the story is not over yet.

Catalan independence, Podemos, corruption, economic recovery and now a political crisis that might bring Rajoy's government down.

The truth still needs to be told, power still needs holding to account. Our collective futures depend on our ability to understand how our societies are evolving.

The Spain Report gives you fast reporting and deeply informed analysis of the latest news, events and trends changing this wonderful country, in English.

Your subscription guarantees our news and analysis are 100% independent.

Subscribe Now