Despite the defiant, anti-Spanish rhetoric, Catalan separatists will once again take power in the region—under the Spanish Constitution—after the radical-left separatist Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), which holds the four key seats in the Catalan Parliament needed to decide on the appointment of Quim Torra as the new First Minister, said on Sunday it would abstain in tomorrow's second-round vote.

The decision unblocks not only the quest for a new regional government but also likely the lifting of the suspension of home rule and the approval of a new—and very much delayed—national budget for the Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy.

All three events have become intertwined at the national level via the lack of an overall majority in Congress and the need for the PM to seek support from the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) for his budget.

Mr. Torra will be appointed as the new First Minister of Catalonia following a brief debate and a vote requiring only a simple majority, not an overall majority as in the first round.

The CUP said in a statement that after abstaining tomorrow it would "assume a role of active opposition", given the "regionalist shift in pro-independence parties", as opposed to the radical separatist position the party defends.

The party would like to see a "new cycle for the independence movement" to build "popular republican unity" to achieve the independence of both Catalonia and across the "Catalan Countries", a term separatists use to encompass the neighbouring regions of Valencia and the Balearic Islands, as well as parts of Aragón and Murcia.

Together For Catalonia (JxC, Junts) and Republican Catalan Left (ERC, Esquerra) hold 66 seats in the 135-seat regional chamber between them, versus the 65 seats held by non-separatist parties.

A recent major poll in Catalonia, the CEO, forecast the CUP could triple its vote at a new regional ballot, which had led to some speculation about what the party would decide to do on Sunday.

If the CUP had decided to vote against Mr. Torra, the constitutional clock for new elections would have run out this week, after four attempts at appointing some separatist candidate as First Minister since the regional elections on December 21, 2017.

The previous three candidates, all from Together For Catalonia, were Carles Puigdemont (still in self-imposed exile in Germany), Jordi Sánchez (the former chairman of the Catalan National Assembly, currently in prison on remand near Madrid) and Jordi Turull (the former regional government spokesman, also currently in prison on remand).

Quim Torra is the first separatist candidate who is neither in prison on remand nor in exile abroad. No candidates from Republican Catalan Left (ERC, Esquerra) or the CUP have been put forward over the past six months, and no attempt has been made by non-separatist parties to appoint a candidate.

Ciudadanos, led in the region by Inés Arrimadas, won the December elections with 1.1 million votes that translated into 36 seats, or 25% of the vote, but neither Mrs. Arrimadas nor any other party came close to an overall majority.

Subscribe Now To Understand Spain Better, In English

Original, independent reporting and insight take you deeper into a changing country.

Spain is a fascinating country, its history full of intriguing characters and events, and the story is not over yet.

Catalan independence, Podemos, corruption, economic recovery and now a political crisis that might bring Rajoy's government down.

The truth still needs to be told, power still needs holding to account. Our collective futures depend on our ability to understand how our societies are evolving.

The Spain Report gives you fast reporting and deeply informed analysis of the latest news, events and trends changing this wonderful country, in English.

Your subscription guarantees our news and analysis are 100% independent.

Subscribe Now