Catalonia's pro-independence leader Artur Mas and his allies have won state elections. But the coalition has not won absolute majority, suggesting that many voters do not favor secession from Spain.
With 99 percent of votes counted, Artur Mas' "Together for Yes" coalition and its alliance partner, the Popular Unity Candidacy had (CUP) won 72 seats in Catalonia's 135-member parliament.
His liberal ruling party, the Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC) had formed the separatist coalition "Together for Yes" with the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and other citizen groups ahead of the regional polls.
"We have won," Mas said, but his alliance managed to win only 47.8 percent of votes, indicating that Catalonia's majority were not in favor of separating from Spain.
"The separatists have lost the plebiscite," Socialist opposition leader Pedro Sanches said.
77 percent of Catalonia's 5.5 million voters turned out for the polls on Sunday.The vote for the regional parliament was billed by Mas as a referendum on whether the region should secede from Spain.
Last November, Mas tried to hold a referendum for the region's independence, but failed after the Spanish Constitutional Court declared such a vote illegal.
The drive to break the rich northeastern region away from Spain and create a new state in Europe prompted a fierce standoff with the central government in Madrid in recent months.
Spain's national government wants the country to keep the country united, as the eurozone's fourth-biggest economy continues to recover from recession. Secessionist demands surged in the recent economic crisis.
Catalonia has its own cultural traditions and language. Catalan is spoken along with Spanish and was suppressed under three decades of General Francisco Franco's dictatorship. Catalonia has seen numerous bids for greater autonomy over the past century.
Ahead of Sunday's poll the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, had stressed again that his government would not allow Catalonia's secession and that "No one will destroy the unity of Spain."
EU leaders have also suggested that an independent Catalonia will be cut off from the bloc and from the euro currency zone.