>> A victory for Catalan's separatists, a bloody nose for Madrid. Secessionist parties won a slim majority late Thursday in an election Madrid called to try to end a political crisis.>>
> But that is instead likely to prolong it. For a start, Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont looks set to return to power.
But he's in self-imposed exile and risks arrest if he sets foot in Spain.>> The prisoners must leave the prison right away. And the legitimate government must return right away to the Generalitat Palace, which is our home.>>
As regional president, Puigdemont called an October referendum that the separatists won.
He then declared independence, prompting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to sack his government, jail many separatist politicians, and impose direct rule from Madrid. Puigdemont's fate is up to the Spanish courts, says Reuters' Julien Toyer.>> The judge has shown that he could be flexible. He has freed several Catalan leaders when those leaders said that they would not break Spanish laws again.
Puigdemont right now is charged with very, very important crimes like sedition, like rebellion, misuse of public funds. So he will have to answer for those crimes before a judge. And then the judge will have to decide whether Puigdemont is remanded into custody, or whether he can face a potential trial being free, and maybe even being the president of Catalonia.
>> The largest share of the vote in Thursday's poll went to the unionist Citizens party. To take power, the three main secessionist parties will have to form a coalition. But they're divided over they want Puigdemont back and even on whether to pursue independence.>> So in order to get out of jail, most of the separatist leaders have actually made a pledge to the judge not to go back to the unilateral strategy.
But it now remains to be seen whether they will stick to their words or whether they will, given the election result yesterday, go back to a hardcore hard-line strategy.>> Several separatists also remain in jail. Among them, Oriol Junqueras, Puigdemont's former deputy. Madrid, too, faces a choice, whether to maintain its hard line or seek a compromise.