Catalonia will likely need to hold new elections in March, following a small far-left party's decision not to back the nominal head of the region, Artur Mas.
Mas's "Together for Yes" alliance won 62 of the 135 seats in parliament in September, a victory that was seen as a huge step for the region, which has long sought independence from Madrid. In October, the alliance filed a bill that would open the door to secession, prompting conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to issue a stern warning on television.
Mas's government needed the support of the far-left CUP party, which won 10 seats in the elections. However, the CUP declined to back the leader, due largely to his austerity policies and various corruption scandals that have been linked to him.
'For the republic'
The anti-EU, anti-NATO secessionist party took to Twitter to express its defiance, saying it rejected the "dilemma of Mas or March" - a reference to the fresh set of elections that will likely be held three months from now. The tweet ended with the hashtag #perlarepublica - "for the republic."
The Catalan parliament needed to form a new government by January 10.
blc/rc (AP, AFP, dpa)