Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has rejected being re-appointed as leader of the region, following pressure from Spain's government.
In a video statement from Germany, Mr Puigdemont proposed political newcomer Quim Torra as his successor.
Separatist allies announced on Saturday they would try to have Mr Puigdemont re-appointed as president by next week after the regional parliament voted through reforms allowing him to take the role without being present.
Catalan policy makers must pick a leader to form a government by 22 May to avert more elections, following a standoff during which separatist politicians put forward candidates who were blocked by the courts for being either abroad or in jail.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called regional elections in December after sacking the previous administration for illegally declaring independence from Spain.
However, pro-independence parties again won a majority of seats.
Mr Torra is a lawyer and journalist who has been active in pro-independence lobbies in the wealthy region.
He has published several books about the history of Catalonia, according to the Catalan parliament website.
Mr Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium after being sacked as regional leader, is currently in Berlin waiting for German courts to rule on a Spanish request to extradite him on a charge of misuse of public funds.
He proposed Mr Torra as candidate in an address released on his YouTube video channel.
Mr Torra will need to be confirmed in a vote of confidence in the Catalan parliament.
"Our group proposes member of parliament Quim Torra to be president of the Catalan government so he can take on this responsibility in the next few days and so that a government can be formed immediately," Mr Puigdemont said.