Catalonia’s pro-independence parties agreed on Saturday on a new leader, clearing the way for the creation of a regional government and raising pressure on national parties in Madrid to form a broad coalition to oppose the separatist drive.

The parties’ agreement to back Carles Puigdemont, a fiery separatist, in a vote due on Sunday came after the region’s acting head, Artur Mas, said he would step down in an attempt to break months of political deadlock in Spain’s wealthiest region.

The move, which comes three weeks after an inconclusive national election, increases pressure on acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his Socialist rivals to bury their differences and form a German-style “grand coalition” in Madrid to thwart the Catalan parties’ push for independence within 18 months.

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