Separatists in Spain's Catalonia won regional elections on Sunday but failed to get the resounding mandate they need to push convincingly for a referendum on independence.
Catalan President Artur Mas, who has implemented unpopular spending cuts in an economic crisis, had called an early election to test support for his new drive for independence for Catalonia, a wealthy region in northeastern Spain.
Voters handed almost two thirds of the 135-seat local parliament to four different Catalan separatist parties that all want to hold a referendum on secession from Spain.
But they punished the main separatist group, Mas's Convergence and Union alliance, or CiU, cutting back its seats to 50 from 62. That will make it difficult for Mas to lead a united drive to hold a referendum in defiance of the constitution and the central government in Madrid.
"Mas clearly made a mistake. He promoted a separatist agenda and the people have told him they want other people to carry out his agenda," said Jose Ignacio Torreblanca, head of the European Council on Foreign Relations' Madrid office.
For now, much like Quebec and Canada, the only thing keeping Catalonia in Spain is the fact the separatist parties have yet to unite the region under one party and leader. Should that change, it would be the economic equivalent of not Texas, but California leaving the union here, a massive blow to Spain's already moribund economy.
We'll see how Spain reacts now that Mas and the separatists are, well, still separate.