CATALAN MPs have agreed a successor to Carles Puigdemont as president, bringing an end to seven months of political vacuum.

The 135-seat parliament voted by 66 votes to 65 to elect fervent independence supporter Quim Torra – who was nominated by Puigdemont – with four members of the far-left anti-establishment party CUP abstaining.

Torra, a 55-year-old father-of-three, is relative newcomer to politics but is no stranger to the Catalan independence movement.

He and his new ministers will be officially sworn in later this week, when Spain’s central government is expected to remove controls it put in place to run the north-eastern state after it declared independence following last year’s referendum.

Immediately after his election, Torra said one of the goals of his new government would be to reinstate Puigdemont as “the legitimate president” of Catalonia.

“Our president is Carles Puigdemont, and we will be faithful to the mandate of October ... to build an independent state in the form of a republic,” he told the chamber in Barcelona.

Torra also has promised to create a “state council in exile” and to establish a constituent assembly to write the constitution for a new Catalan republic.

“Everybody will win rights with the republic,” he told fellow MPs in a speech before the vote. “Nobody will lose rights. The republic is for everybody, no matter what they vote. We have a unique opportunity, let’s use it. Let’s design from scratch what we want.”

He said the process would mean “real change” for Catalonia, with a model based on equality and fraternity, where no one would feel excluded. He said this would end with the draft of a new constitution.

Torra pledged to end direct rule from Madrid and said he wanted to reintroduce 16 laws suspended by the Constitutional Court, including those covering climate change, energy poverty, and ensuring gender equality.

He said: “Some of these laws were approved by unanimity, even with the support of [the Catalan branch of Spain’s ruling] People’s Party, which was not enough to prevent the Spanish government from running over them like a bulldozer and suspending them.”

On the economic front, Torra pledged to set a new minimum salary of €1100 (£970) a month and vowed to boost the government’s business offices abroad to attract more foreign investment.

Speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Roger Torrent, meanwhile, has snubbed Spain’s King Felipe VI and will not ask to meet him to give official notification of Torra’s appointment. it is a formality required by protocol, but Torrent said the tradition changed when Felipe refused to meet former speaker, Carme Forcadell, when Puigdemont was sworn in as president two years ago.

Torrent said the meeting would not be appropriate politically, as the king did not show support for victims of police violence in the independence referendum and has not recognised that Spain has “political prisoners” – Catalan leaders jailed for their role in the campaign.