Mas has been Catalonia’s regional president since 2010 and heads the Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC) party that has played a key role in Catalan politics for decades.
The threat of Catalonia breaking away from Spain has been a constant source of bitter dispute between Mas and Rajoy’s government, which rejects Catalan independence as unconstitutional.
In his speech, Rajoy called on the Regional Government that comes out of the new Regional Parliament to “govern for all the people of Catalonia, to overcome the divisions, tension and confrontations that have marked recent years, to replace monologue and unilateral imposition with constructive and loyal dialogue, because it was once again shown yesterday that Catalonia is very plural”.
She said the Edinburgh agreement negotiated between the two governments and signed by Alex Salmond and David Cameron which led to the referendum was an example to others how to settle matters democratically.
Separately, Spain’s government is now fast-tracking a bill through parliament which would give the country’s Constitutional Court the power to suspend elected officials while their actions were being reviewed on the suspicion of being anti-constitutional. Instead the November 9 ballot was merely symbolic and organised by volunteers.
The outcome is that Catalan voters cast a ballot in favor of independence in the belief that it would spur discussions between the two camps and improve their personal lives in the future, said Jose Juan Toharia, from polling firm Metroscopia.
Both groups said they would start this week holding meetings to discuss how to proceed towards a declaration of independence.
Three months ahead of a general election, Rajoy is vowing to preserve unity in Spain, the eurozone’s fourth-biggest economy, as it recovers from an economic crisis.
Sunday’s result put the wind in the sails of the separatists, but the court summons and the need to strike a deal with the CUP puts Mas in a tight spot. Catalonia leader Artur Mas claimed victory in a parliamentary election for pro-secession parties pushing for independence from Spain. But the CUP has pledged not to back Mas, setting the scene for tough negotiations.
Neus Munté, the acting deputy premier in the Catalan administration, said the Spanish government was trying to orchestrate a “political trial” against Mr Mas.
“While we are part of the Spanish state, issues that would be quite normal in any other country in the world, such as asking citizens their opinion, get turned into lawsuits, charges and court hearings”, he said on the radio.