Calling the election results a “slap in the face” for Rajoy, Puigdemont said: “We must completely change the recipe because it doesn’t work any more”.
The deposed Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, tells reporters that the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has a magnificent opportunity to start getting behind a solution rather than creating more problems.
Rajoy, who called the elections after sacking the previous secessionist government, had hoped Catalonia’s “silent majority” would deal separatism a decisive blow in what was a de facto independence referendum, but his hard line backfired.
With nearly all of the votes counted, the three leading separatist parties celebrated gaining a majority in parliament.
Rajoy had yet to respond early Friday afternoon to Puigdemont’s call, but he has repeatedly said there can be no talks unless separatists abandon their independence drive.
But while this was an election dominated by independence, it was not a referendum on it.
Spain’s Prime Minister had gambled that the election would settle the independence issue and even destroy the separatist parties.
Separatist lawmakers passed an illegal independence declaration in late October. Mr Junqueras faces the same charges and is now in prison. Scoring 25% of the votes, her pro-business Ciutadans (Citizens) party won 37 seats, which will be the biggest single bloc in the 135-seat regional assembly.
Analysts said the ball was back in Rajoy’s court.
Catalan separatist parties are on track to win most seats in the new regional parliament, setting the stage for more confrontation with Spain’s government.
The vote was widely seen as a moment of truth on the independence question, a hugely divisive issue for the wealthy northern region, that has rattled a Europe already shaken by Brexit.
The narrow victory for Puigdemont’s secessionist camp presents a fresh headache for the European Union, which had defended the Spanish judiciary’s pursuit of separatist leaders on grounds that they had violated Spain’s constitution.
Spain, and Europe, had hoped that the election would end the political crisis.
Demmer said Spanish politicians should “use all opportunities for dialogue and de-escalation”.
The European Union has backed Madrid against the separatists, and some Spanish officials view Mr Puigdemont’s offer to hold talks with the Prime Minister in “any location in the EU” as an attempt to drag Brussels into the dispute.
BARCELONA-The victory by separatists in Catalonia will embolden pro-independence groups to continue their push for secession from Spain, prolonging the country’s political crisis and pressuring the Rajoy government to find a way to avert another showdown with the restive region.
The leader of the movement, Puigdemont, isn’t in the country and will surely be arrested for an outstanding warrant if and when he returns to Spain. Its leader, Ines Arrimadas, maintained that the ERC and JxCat may not be able to form a governing coalition, saying: “Let’s not draw hasty conclusions, they were celebrating, they were euphoric on election night”.
This was an apparent reference to Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which Rajoy used to directly administer the independence-seeking region and dismiss the regional government after Catalonia declared independence in October.
Spanish authorities have sought his arrest on allegations of rebellion.
Within the separatist party block, ousted Catalan President Carles Puigdemont’s JxCat was slightly ahead of the ERC, led by his former deputy, Oriol Junqueras.
Residents and politicians in and outside Catalonia are digesting election results which further exposed the sharp divisions between those for and against independence.
Exit polls also showed a five percent increase in voter participation over the 2015 election that originally put pro-independence parties in power.