Members of the Catalan parliament in Barcelona. AFP

The Catalan parliament is expected to elect fiercely pro-independence candidate Quim Torra to be its regional president on Monday as separatists seek to end the emergency direct rule imposed by Madrid last year and renew their secession bid.

Torra’s elevation became all but assured after the far-left radical pro-independence CUP party said it would abstain from an investiture vote in the regional parliament on Monday.

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“The CUP will not block the formation of a new government,” the party said.

The absence of its votes will leave father of three Torra with the simple majority needed to be elected regional president.

Analysts warned the road ahead would be a rocky one, however, with politicians and voters split on the merits of trying to leave Spain.

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 requiring an absolute majority 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.