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Puigdemont set to retake regional leadership after vote

Catalonia’s separatist leader Carles Puigdemont looked likely to regain the leadership of Spain’s northeastern region after preliminary results showed secessionist parties taking a majority in regional elections.

The results marked a serious rebuke to Spain’s central government and the European Union, likely prolonging a crisis that has hurt the Spanish economy and prompted many companies to depart from Catalonia.

Separatist parties were seen getting 70 seats in the 135-seat assembly, Reuters reported, citing official data. Puigdemont’s Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia) was seen winning 34 of those seats, ahead of two other separatist parties.

Speaking from Brussels, Puigdemont on Friday said the absolute majority won by separatists was a victory of the “Catalan republic” over Spain, Reuters reported.

Puigdemont went into self-imposed exile after his government was scrapped by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in October when it declared independence from Spain.

The euro slid Friday against the dollar after results pointed to the win for pro-independence parties.

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