Puigdemont accuses Madrid of having planned a wave of violence

On Saturday, Puigdemont - who PDeCAT said on Sunday would lead the party in the election - called for a united Catalan political front for independence from Spain and against the detention of his former members of government. "Only one was released on bail", she says.

The Catalan leader fled to Brussels after the Spanish government dismissed the regional government and parliament due to their attempts to secede from Spain.

The European Union has consistently said the Catalan issue is a domestic matter for Spain. A group of mayors held up letters spelling "Help Catalonia".

The judicial process in Belgium, which could last a few months, allows Mr Puigdemont to fight the December election, albeit remotely, from Brussels. All are subject to European arrest warrants issued by Spain.

Around 200 mayors from Catalonia gathered in a Brussels art museum on Tuesday to show their support for Carles Puigdemont.

They believe they will not receive a fair trial in Spain and, through lawyers, are fighting their extradition to Madrid.

They raised walking sticks - the symbol of mayoral power in Spain - in the air and chanted "President, president, president" as they waited for Puigdemont to come through the door. About 2,000 companies have also transferred their headquarters to other regions in Spain, he added.

Catalonia's deposed leader Carles Puigdemont on Tuesday urged the region's political forces to unite against Spain, as hours remained for him to agree terms for an electoral pact with other pro-independence parties.

Speaking in English, and to loud applause, the MEPs and mayors criticised European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for his lack of support for their independence bid.

"Nine former Catalan ministers were whisked off to separate jails around Madrid".

Madrid has taken over administrative control in Catalonia, until then an autonomous region, and called new elections on December 21.

"I want justice", he said in French.

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Catalonia's opposition leader hopes that disillusion among pro-independence supporters can help her Ciutadans (Citizens) party and other pro-Spanish unity groups gain a majority of seats between them in the region's crucial December 21 early election.

She says no country recognizes their secession declaration made on October 27, the European Union insists an independent Catalonia will be expelled and thousands of businesses have since moved their headquarters from the region.

The pro-independence leader said that he realizes that if he would be expelled to Spain, he could land in prison.

However, the divide is close and polling since the police violence of referendum day and the imprisonment, last week, of Catalan ministers suggests the support for independence is increasing.

He also said that Europe's values were best defended by "those who protected the ballot box" during the banned independence referendum on October 1, when a violent police crackdown on Catalan voters shocked the world.

Some 29 percent of those surveyed said that Catalonia's push for secession was Spain's largest problem in a poll taken October 2 to Oct 11, up from just 7.8 percent in a previous poll taken at the beginning of September.

The Catalan independence crisis is now Spaniards' second largest concern after the country's rampant unemployment, according to a poll published Tuesday.

"The ideal would be a broad regional list of parties..."

In a statement, the ANC recommended that the coalition include jailed separatist activists and members of the deposed cabinet as candidates.

The parties have until midnight Tuesday to register an interest in forming coalitions.

A recent poll by the Barcelona-based La Vanguardia newspaper predicted that the three pro-secession parties would win between 66 and 69 seats in December.

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