The Catalan parliament voted Carles Puigdemont as the new president of Catalonia on Sunday, as part of a deal between Junts pel Sí and CUP that is expected to accelerate the push for independence. Carles Puigdemont was elected with 70 votes for, 63 against and two abstentions.

Former president Artur Mas announced his nomination for the leadership shortly after announcing, Saturday, he would resign: ‘I want to make it clear that personally, this is a very painful decision. But I feel calm. My candidate to become the next president is the Mayor of Girona and president of the association of pro-independence town mayors, Carles Puigdemont,’ he said.

Carles Puigdemont will have an explicit mandate to lead Catalonia towards independence from Spain over the next 18 months. His government will have the job of setting up a state, by creating a central bank, tax authority or social security system.

Mr Puigdemont, a former journalist and the current mayor of of Girona, will enjoy a solid parliamentary majority to implement that plan.

Puigdemont was born in Amer (Girona) on December 29th 1962, and he currently lives in Girona with his wife and two children. He started studying for a degree in Catalan philology at the University College of Girona, but never graduated. His professional profile is that of a journalist. He was the editor-in-chief of El Punt, the director of Agència Catalana de Notícies, and the director of the newspaper Catalonia Today, which offers news about Catalonia in English. He is a member of the Catalan journalists’ association, and has published several books, such as Cata… què? Catalunya vista per la premsa internacional [Catalonia as seen by the foreign press] (1994) and several essays about communication and new technologies.

Puigdemont was a founding member of the Nationalist Youth of Catalonia branch in Girona. He is also a member of Convergència Democràtica, and between 2002 and 2004 he was the director of Girona’s Casa de Cultura. Since 2006 he has been a member of the Parliament of Catalonia.

In 2007, Puigdemont ran for the local elections in Girona as CiU’s candidate, but he was not successful and remained in opposition. However in the following local elections (2011), he managed to break Socialists’ Party of Catalonia’s 32-year hegemony in Girona and became Mayor.