- CUP will not support Mas
- Snap election likely to be in March
- Echoes the scene playing out in Madrid
Recently-elected politicians in Catalonia have six days to save their coalition.
The Catalan far-left party CUP has said it will not support acting regional head Artur Mas for another term as leader.
The announcement triggers a fresh round of local elections and will weaken the independence movement seeking a split from Spain.
CUP is a fringe, anti-capitalist party which rejects Catalan membership of NATO and the EU.
It has held the balance of power in talks to form a regional government since elections last September awarded a majority to pro-independence parties.
However, CUP has repeatedly rejected the candidature of Mas, who heads the centre-right, business-friendly party Junts pel Sí.
Mas heads the separatist “Together for Yes” alliance that won 62 seats in the 135-seat regional parliament last September. It needed a further ten to secure a workable majority.
After three months of debates, CUP members finally decided on Sunday afternoon not to support Mas as coalition leader.
Speaking after the meeting, a party spokesman said CUP might reconsider its position if another candidate were to be nominated.
However, the Together for Yes alliance says Mas is a non-negotiable figure.
Local mirrors national
The drawn-out process of forming a government in Catalonia echoes the political stalemate gripping Spain at national level.
No party in Madrid was handed a clear mandate to lead at general elections two weeks ago.
The prospect of another poll in March plunges Spain into more uncertainty.
The make-up of both the regional and national governments set to negotiate the future of the wealthy northeastern region remain unclear.
At the national level, parties are in talks to form a coalition government in Madrid.
Spanish voters, disillusioned by recession and high-level corruption cases, turned away from establishment political parties and voted for newcomers.
The future of Catalonia is at the centre of these talks.
Disagreement over whether to allow the region a referendum on independence is a major sticking point.
Newcomer Podemos supports a vote while the Socialists do not.