The separatist majority in Catalonia's parliament has failed to elect a regional president, starting a two-month countdown that could end with another regional election in the restive corner of Spain.
Candidate Jordi Turull fell short of the absolute majority needed to become the next Catalan president due to a division within the three parties who seek independence for the north-eastern region.
An abstention from today's vote by the anti-capitalist CUP party left Mr Turull with 64 votes when he needed 68.
The regional parliament now has two months to pick a president and form a government before a new election is triggered.
Parliament rules say Mr Turull could have a second chance to be elected on Saturday.
But the former minister in the previous government faces a court date tomorrow that could end with his indictment on rebellion charges and a spell in jail.