MADRID (AP) — Efforts by the acting president of Spain's powerful northeastern Catalonia region to form a pro-independence regional government have been dealt another blow as the radical pro-secession CUP party reaffirmed its opposition to his candidacy.
Artur Mas heads the "Together for Yes" alliance that won 62 seats in the 135-seat regional parliament in September elections but, lacking a majority, he is seeking support from CUP, which has 10 seats.
CUP has voted against him twice and on Sunday its members decided to maintain the stance. They agreed to continue talks with Mas' alliance but called on it to present another candidate.
However, CUP leader Antonio Banos said Monday the party members' decision was not binding and that all options were still open.
The Catalan parliament has until Jan. 10 to form a government or call a new election. The pro-independence parties fear the independence drive would lose momentum if fresh regional elections were held.
Spain has declared that any attempt at separation would be unconstitutional.
The CUP and Mas' alliance joined forces Nov. 9 to approve a parliamentary resolution announcing a road map to independence by 2017.
But Spain's Constitutional Court ordered the resolution temporarily suspended following a legal challenge by the Spanish government, and warned Mas and his allies they could face criminal charges if they defy the ruling.
On Friday, the Catalan parliament called on the court to dismiss the challenge, saying the resolution was simply an expression of desire and had no legal standing.
The resolution authorized the incoming regional government to begin work on a Catalan constitution and to establish tax-collecting and security systems. It also exempted it from being forced to heed Spanish institutions, including the Constitutional Court.
Polls show that most Catalans support a referendum on independence, but are divided over breaking from Spain.
This story has been corrected to show name of the alliance is "Together for Yes," not "Together of Yes."