TWO Catalan separatist parties said they have reached an initial agreement to form a regional government, sparing the voters the prospect of returning to the polls three months after the last election.
The left-wing Leftist Catalan Republic (ERC) party and the conservative Together for Catalunya party are rivals but share the belief that Catalunya should split from Spain.
The deal means Pere Aragones, a senior figure in ERC, will be the next regional president of Catalunya, where the population of 7.5 million is split over the issue of independence.
The agreement came just days before the time limit whereby voters would have to return to polls because no government had been formed after months of talks between both parties.
Divisions had reached a breaking point last week over how to proceed on the issue of how to break away from Spain.
The ERC prefers a slow, negotiated settlement with the Spanish government while Together for Catalunya wants to confront Madrid, possibly by staging another unilateral declaration of independence as happened in 2017.
One sticking point was the role of former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who is now a MP in the European Parliament and a fugitive from Spanish justice.
In elections on February 14, the pro-unionist Socialists won the most votes, but three separatist parties together had more than half of the seats.
A poll for La Vanguardia newspaper published on Sunday found 52% of Catalans wanted the region to remain part of Spain, compared with 42% who supported independence. This represents a rise for those who oppose secession.
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