BARCELONA - Catalan politicians cleared the way Sunday for a pro-independence candidate to be elected regional president and end the emergency direct rule imposed by Madrid in last year's political crisis.

The far-left radical pro-independence CUP party said in a statement that it would abstain from an investiture vote in the regional parliament on Monday. The absence of its votes will leave pro-independence candidate Quim Torra with the simple majority needed to be elected regional president. "The CUP will not block the formation of a new government," it said. The formation of a new regional government is required for Spain to lift the state of direct rule.

The Catalan regional assembly had failed to elect Torra in an initial vote on Saturday. In the second round vote scheduled for Monday, only a simple majority will be required so Torra is expected to win the vote. He was handpicked as a candidate by deposed leader Carles Puigdemont.

Puigdemont is in exile in Germany and faces jail on rebellion charges for last year's secession bid if he returns to Spain.