Pedro Sanchez has been sworn in as Spain’s prime minister after ousting Mariano Rajoy in a vote of no confidence.
The 46-year-old leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party came to power at a ceremony at the Zarzuela Palace on the outskirts of Madrid, presided over by King Felipe VI.
Minutes afterwards, the new Catalan government was also sworn in with leader Quim Torra saying he is committed to independence and wanted discuss it with the new prime minister.
On Friday, Mr Sanchez successfully persuaded Spanish MPs to back a move to remove ex-PM Mariano Rajoy in the wake of a corruption scandal.
The no-confidence vote came after 29 former members of Mr Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party were convicted of corruption last week.
Although the parliament voted 180-169 on Friday to replace Mr Rajoy’s government with one led by Mr Sanchez, the Socialists have just 84 seats in the 350-seat parliament.
It will mean his minority government has to be propped up by a disparate group of parties with minority interests, including the far-left Podemos party, Basque nationalists and Catalan separatists.
Under the terms of its rule, Madrid is obliged to devolve power back to the Catalan government once it is fully constituted and its cabinet members named.
This also took place on Saturday morning.
Mr Torra is likely to use the influence he wields to push the separatist cause, with his movement allied to many of those keeping Mr Sanchez’s fledgling government in power.
Mr Sanchez has said he wants to “build bridges” with Catalonia’s new separatist government, but opposes an official independence referendum.
Mr Torra said after the swearing in ceremony: “Pedro Sanchez, let us talk, take risks, both you and I, let us sit down at a table and talk, government to government.”
Mr Rajoy imposed direct rule on Catalonia in October, following a unilateral referendum on independence which the Spanish government considered illegal.
A member of parliament for Catalan pro-independence party Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), Joan Tarda, made it clear that his support for Mr Sanchez was motivated by his views on the former PM, rather than the current one.
“Our ‘yes’ to Sanchez is a ‘no’ to Rajoy,” Mr Tarda said.
But while Mr Sanchez’s appointment could have implications for Catalonia, it is unlikely to rock the status quo in Europe as the new leader of the eurozone’s fourth biggest economy is a staunch supporter of the EU and the shared currency.
The new prime minister has vowed to fight corruption and help Spaniards affected by years of public spending cuts under Mr Rajoy’s government.
He has also pledged to hold an election soon, but is yet to set a date.