FORMER Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has called for talks with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy after his alliance of pro-independence parties secured another parliamentary majority.

Mr Puigdemont, who fled Spain almost two months ago to avoid arrest after going against court rulings and pushing for unilateral Catalan independence, said in Brussels that Thursday’s election opened up “a new era” for Catalonia.

He said he was ready to meet Mr Rajoy without pre-conditions anywhere in the European Union other than Spain. His overture, however, was rejected.

Referring to the poll results, he said: “More than two million people are in favour of Catalonia’s independence.

“Recognising reality is vital if we are to find a solution.”

He added that he would return to Barcelona if the new parliament elects him as regional leader, though the legal protections he would have as an elected leader are unclear.

Mr Rajoy called the snap election after Catalan separatists declared independence in October following a referendum deemed illegal by Spanish authorities.

The Spanish PM also sacked the Catalan government that Mr Puigdemont ran and dissolved its parliament. He has ruled out independence for the Catalonia, saying it is unconstitutional.

Though the pro-Spain Ciutadans or C’s party collected most votes in the ballot, pro-independence parties won the most seats in the parliament. Mr Puigdemont’s Together for Catalonia snared 34 seats in the 135-seat assembly, making it the most popular “independentista” party.

Two other pro-independence parties made up the dominant bloc: the left-wing republican ERC party, which collected 32 seats, and the radical, anti-capitalist CUP, which has four seats.

Mr Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party came last with just three seats in what was a major blow to the country’s governing party.

Yes parties took nearly half of all votes and more than their No rivals. There was also a block of votes for a slate neutral or ambivalent on independence.

The slim “Yes” parliamentary majority will allow them to negotiate the formation of a government. Past squabbles between them suggest this will not be easy.

Fernando Vallespin, a professor of political studies at Madrid’s Autonomous University, said there were many unpredictable factors clouding the immediate future of Catalonia.

These included the legal issues and whether the pro-independence parties can find common ground.

A reminder of the legal woes for independentistes came when a judge investigating them for leading what Spain says was an illegal independence push in October announced the rebellion and sedition probe will be extended to six more Catalan politicians.

Mr Rajoy said he expects a “new era based on dialogue” to begin in Catalonia, which although routinely referred to a country ranks as one of 17 devolved regions under the compromise constitution introduced after the 1975 death of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. The Spanish PM said during a news conference that the election’s outcome showed a diversity of views exist in Catalonia, which compel the new government to abide by the law.

He said he will talk with the country’s new leaders so long as they do not violate Spain’s constitution.

Newspapers in Barcelona stressed that Mr Puigdemont and his allies had won. “Yes” parties took more votes, they pointed out.

“Seguim”, declared the daily El Punt Avui, “We go on”. This headline came on a page one washed in yellow, the colour that has come to represent solidarity with the country’s jailed or fugitive independentistes.

Spanish papers also had their say on the elections. They almost universally marked the surge in support for C’s and its leader in Catalonia, Ines Arrimadas.

La Razon, a right-wing Madrid daily, splashed with “Arrimadas achieves historic but insufficient victory.” Across the Spanish capital another unionist paper, ABC, described her victory as “historic but bittersweet”.