A small, far-left party has voted against backing Artur Mas as leader of Catalonia's regional parliament, temporarily halting a push toward independence from Spain by the powerful northeastern region and almost certainly triggering a new local election.

Mas heads the separatist "Together for Yes" alliance that won 62 seats in the 135-seat regional parliament last September and needed the support of Popular Unity Candidacy's 10 seats to secure a workable majority.

After three months of debates, CUP members finally decided Sunday not to support Mas as leader of a separatist coalition.

As the other groups in the parliament had warned Mas they had no intention of negotiating with him and had set Jan. 10 as a deadline for an agreement, a new regional election in March now look inevitable.