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Divided Catalan separatists fail to form regional government

FILE PHOTO: Catalan separatist leader Pere Aragones speaks during a Catalan Left Republican party (ERC) meeting, as the political campaign for the February 14th election begins, in Badalona, near Barcelona, Spain, January 29, 2021. REUTERS/Nacho Doce/File Photo

BARCELONA (Reuters) -Catalonia’s separatist parties on Tuesday failed to agree on forming a coalition government in the northeastern Spanish region, raising the prospect of a snap election if no candidate manages to attract a parliamentary majority in two months.

On paper, the leftist Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), centre-right Junts in parliament and far-left CUP obtained enough votes in a regional election in February to rule together.

But Junts did not back ERC leader Pere Aragones in Tuesday’s vote in parliament on naming a regional leader, laying bare the divisions marring the separatist movement since an ill-fated declaration of independence in 2017.

The Socialist Party, which opposes secession, got the most votes in February and is now expected to seek to form a government, but they are very unlikely to get a majority of votes in the regional assembly.

Esquerra, which came second in February’s election, is therefore likely to keep trying to convince Junts to give it the support it needs for the separatists to keep running the wealthy northeastern region.

If they fail to do so in the next two months, a new election would automatically be called.

Reporting by Joan Faus, editing by Inti Landauro, Ingrid Melander, William Maclean