Carles Puigdemont ready to meet Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy

The truth is that "Independence" has been so divisive here that it will always be a major part of politics, probably forever.

But Catalonia's political landscape remains crowded and complicated and it is hard to see a way forward through it.

"This result does nothing to solve the conflict but instead reinforces the extremists on both sides", said Elisenda Malaret Garcia, a professor of administrative law at the University of Barcelona.

After Catalonia formally declared independence from Spain in October, Madrid quickly responded by imposing direct rule over the region and instigating new elections on Dec. 21.

The pro-Spain Ciutadans (Citizens) collected the most votes of any single party and its biggest electoral triumph since the business-friendly party was founded just over 10 years ago.

That's not the view of many political commentators. The new parliament will be formed by January 23 at the latest, and a new president has to chosen by February 6. ABC newspaper thinks Madrid should now settle the Catalan crisis.

"The Spanish state has been defeated", the 54-year-old said in a televised address.

As to further developments that would very much depend on whether the Spanish government accepts the Catalan election results, Partal said. In a defiant speech after the result, he pledged to return to Barcelona.

With a majority of the seats, the separatists would have a better chance of forming a coalition, but since the referendum these groups have become even more fractured.

An opinion poll taken before the Catalan vote put it still in fourth.

Madrid government has used all the tools in its toolbox against pro-independence movement in Catalonia, except for negotiations, says Thomas Harrington, professor of Iberian Studies at Trinity College in Hartford.

In an attempt to stop that referendum, Spanish police stormed some polling stations.

The move led to violent clashes with hundreds of people reported injured.

"The pro-secession forces can never again claim they speak for all of Catalonia", Arrimadas said, promising her party will continue to oppose the separatists. "I only demand to the European Commission or other European institutions, to listen, listen to the Catalan people, not only the Spanish state", he said.

"The Catalan republic has beaten the monarchy and Article 155..."

That gamble has failed and now he has to decide how to deal with jailed or exiled leaders who have demonstrated again that they have a popular mandate. They and a third party secured a majority in the regional Parliament.

So Puigdemont campaigned for the recent elections from Brussels.

And there, of course, is the problem. "It will not change", commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein told AFP news agency.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from VOA News, the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

(Derechos de autor © 2015. Todos los derechos reservados.)

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