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Former Catalan leader Puigdemont seen regaining regional leadership

Catalonia's president in exile, Carles Puigdemont, in an interview in Brussels, Belgium, on December 15, 2017.
Miquel Llop | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Catalonia's separatist leader Carles Puigdemont was on track to regain the leadership of Spain's northeastern region after preliminary results showed a coalition of secessionist parties winning a majority in regional elections.

Puigdemont went on self-imposed exile in Brussels in October after conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy sacked his regional government when they organised an illegal independence referendum and later proclaimed a Catalan republic.

The separatist parties were seen getting a total of 70 seats in the 135-seat assembly, official data with 76 percent of the votes counted showed. Puigdemont's Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia) were seen winning 34 of those seats, ahead of two other separatist parties.