Catalan backs independence

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — The former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont called today for talks with his adversary, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, after snap regional elections that gave pro-independence parties a parliamentary majority.

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 also opened “a new era” for Catalonia.

Rajoy called the snap election after Puigdemont and his followers declared Catalonia’s independence in October following a referendum that was deemed illegal by Spanish authorities. In response, Rajoy fired the Catalan government that Puigdemont ran and dissolved its parliament. Rajoy has ruled out independence for the wealthy northeastern Spanish region, saying it is unconstitutional.