Thumbs up from Carles Puigdemont. | Francois Lenoir

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Pro-secessionist parties in Catalonia have secure a small, combined majority at the election that was called by Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy

JuntsXCat, the party of exiled ex-president Carles Puigdemont, gained 34 seats of the 135 in the Catalonia parliament; the Esquerra Republicana Catalunya of imprisoned former vice-president Oriol Junqueras, 32 seats; and the CUP four.

These three groupings therefore have a combined total of 70 seats, sufficient for a majority if they were to form a coalition but with only around 47.5% of the vote.

Ciudadanos, with over 25% of the vote, secured the most seats - 36 - while the other unionist parties, the PSC (PSOE in Catalonia) and the Partido Popular, won seventeen and four seats respectively.

CatECP, Podemos in Catalonia, who have considered themselves to be potential kingmakers, gained eight seats.

The turnout in the election was exceptionally high - almost 82%.

The result is a defeat for Rajoy, as it was for his party, the Partido Popular. Its four seats are seven fewer than it had previously held. Xavier Albiol, the leader of the PP in Catalonia, admitted that "it’s been a very bad result for PP but also for the future of Catalonia".

From Brussels, Puigdemont said: "As Catalan president I wish to congratulate people for delivering an indisputable result. We have won this election in exceptional circumstances, with candidates in prison, with the government in exile and without having the same resources as the state."

Inés Arrimadas, the leader of Ciudadanos, stated: "We have sent a message to the world that a majority in Catalonia is in favour of the union with Spain. For the first time, a constitutionalist party has won a Catalan election."

The election, insofar as it was akin to a further referendum on independence, has merely emphasised the division in Catalonia. The secessionist parties may have failed to gain at least 50% of the vote, but their combined performance has essentially returned Catalonia to the situation before Puigdemont's declaration of independence and the Spanish government's invoking of Article 155. The pressure is now all on Rajoy, who might wish to heed the words of Xavier Domènech of Catalunya en Comú-Podem (Podemos): "This country needs to enter a new stage. These elections show that the central government has to enter into a real dialogue." Whether it will is another matter.