PRO-INDEPENDENCE politicians in Catalonia have found themselves unlikely king-makers after the Spanish general elections.

Carles Puigdemont, the former Catalan president currently in exile in Belgium as a consequence of his involvement in the 2017 referendum, has found himself at the centre of Spanish politics as his party holds crucial parliamentary seats.

Acknowledging his position on Twitter, the politician shared a story published by Spanish newspaper El Mundo which reported prosecutors seeking “an international search and capture order against Puigdemont”.

“One day you are decisive in order to form a Spanish government, the next day Spain orders your arrest,” Puigdemont wrote in English.

The news comes after a relatively even split in the Spanish elections.

After the nationwide vote was tallied on Sunday, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez seemed likely to hold on as the surge among Conservatives predicted by the polls failed to materialise.

Although Alberto Nunez Feijoo’s right-wing Popular Party (PP) did emerge as the largest single group, they failed to win the number of seats needed to automatically depose the socialist incumbent, even with the backing of the far-right Vox.

As it stands, Sanchez’s Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) has 122 MPs while Yolanda Díaz’s left-wing Sumar bloc has 31. On the right, Feijoo’s PP has 136 MPs while Vox has 33.

Feijoo’s combined 169 votes leaves him seven short of the absolute majority of 176 MPs which is needed to be confirmed as prime minister.

Aside from PP and Vox, Junts are the only right-leaning party left.

The National: Spanish right-wing opposition party Partido Popular (PP) leader Alberto Nunez Feijoo applauds at the end of the PP campaign closing rally in A Coruna on July 21, 2023 ahead of the July 23 general election. Spain votes Sunday on whether to hand Socialist

With neither Sanchez nor Feijoo (above) in control of an absolute majority, subsequent rounds of voting could see them take control of the government by winning more support than opposition.

Sanchez, on 153, is also short – but he might be able to find the support he needs from the smaller parties, not least the pro-independence Catalans.

Junts, which Puigdemont founded in 2020, are very aware of the position the results of the elections have left them in. Even an abstention would leave Sanchez free to collect all the remaining votes and lock Feijoo out of power.

Míriam Nogueras, the leader of the group of seven Junts MPs, said after the election: “We have understood the result. Ours is a people that takes advantage of opportunities and this is an opportunity. A stage for change opens … We will not make Pedro Sánchez president for nothing."

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Reports said Nogueras was joined by top Junts figures including president Laura Borràs as she added: "Pedro Sánchez has many pending duties with Catalonia, we owe him nothing."

Jordi Turull, Junts secretary general, claimed on Monday that the “window of opportunity” could be used to further the goal of Catalan independence.

"The state knows that if it wants to negotiate with us, there are two issues that are fundamental and generate consensus in Catalonia which are an amnesty and self-determination," he said.

But writing on Twitter on Sunday, Puigdemont suggested that the party would not back Sanchez.

Saying that Junts’s MPs owed “nothing to anyone but their voters”, Puigdemont went on: “Our voters, our program, our commitments, have been and are the references of our political action. We owe it to them.”

He added: “Tomorrow will be another day (also in exile) and we must continue to defend Catalonia against those who want to liquidate our language, culture and nation.”

The National: Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez (Mindaugas Kulbis/AP)

ERC, who also have seven seats, have supported Sanchez (above) in the past. The party helped him to form a minority government in 2020.

Elsewhere, Basque nationalists also find themselves in the position where their small voting blocs could prove crucial.

Arnaldo Otegi, from the Basque, left-wing EH Bildu party, said his six MPs would never support a PP government which brought in the far-right Vox.

“If it depends on us, 'no pasaran'," he said.

Anionic Ortuzar, who leads the Basque PNV party which won five MPs, said: "After the election, we have a very, very difficult parliamentary arithmetic, but it seems our votes will be once again decisive.”

Feijoo has been adamant that opponents should allow him to take power “in accordance with the electoral victory”.

He argued that no one should “blockade Spain”, referencing a protracted battle to win the votes to become prime minister.

Once a candidate has accepted the King’s offer to try to become prime minister, they have two months to secure the necessary votes before a rerun of the general election.