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Fresh elections in Catalonia only way to solve impasse, says centrist leader

  • The Catalan parliament offered a delayed declaration of independence
  • Spain's Prime Minister said he wants clarity on what that means
  • Centrist party president tells CNBC fresh elections are needed in Catalonia

An opponent of Catalan independence has said fresh elections will be the only way to break the current impasse between supporters of independence and authorities in Madrid.

Albert Rivera, president of the Ciudadanos party, told CNBC Wednesday that current President of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, could not stay in his position if progress is to be made.

"For me, the most important question is how to change the government of Catalonia. The president is not defending, and is against, the rule of law," he said.

"We need a president that will decide to come back to democracy, to come back to the constitution. So the main issue now is how to change the president. For me the best way is by voting, is by elections," Rivera said.

Rivera is an ally of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his Ciudadanos (meaning Citizens in English) is seen as a liberal center-left political party in Spain. Rivera claimed Puigdemont would now have to step down and elections for the region would be necessary.

"We have to do elections in Catalonia to choose a new government because Puigdemont is going and probably we can change the government and so this is the democratic way to change the situation," Rivera added.

On Tuesday evening Puigdemont called for dialogue with Madrid after first claiming the right to independence but then immediately suspending the declaration.

In response Wednesday, Rajoy said the federal government had agreed to formally ask regional authorities in Catalonia whether it had declared independence or not.

Addressing the Spanish parliament on Wednesday morning, Rajoy said this understanding "comes before any other measure that could be taken under Article 155 of the constitution," Reuters reported.

Article 155 is a federal government provision that could allow Madrid to terminate the Catalan government and seek fresh elections.