Independence drive for Spain's Catalonia falters

The push for an independence referendum for Spain's Catalonia region has been thrown into doubt after the referendum's main supporter was punished at the polls and forced into the difficult position of having to seek alliances with other parties.

Arturo Mas of the center-right CIU party wanted an absolute majority to give him support for an independence referendum that the central government in Madrid says would be unconstitutional. But his party lost seats, while the pro-independence Republican Left made big gains.

It would be difficult for Mas to form an alliance with the Republican Left because it has been very critical of austerity cutbacks for Catalonia pushed through by Mas. Mas did not immediately outline his plans Monday on how he would try to form a majority.

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The leader of the center-right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), Artur Mas, center, looks at the crowd following his election results in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012. The economically powerful region of Catalonia has voted into office a large majority of pro-independence lawmakers, but the leader who made a referendum over breaking away from Spain a central plank of his campaign saw his party's majority reduced by 12 seats. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)