But even if Ciudadanos goes into coalition with the remaining contenders, it is nearly impossible for pro-unity parties to end up governing, except in one scenario: if the separatists fail to clinch a deal.
In response to the election results ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who is living in exile in Belgium, called for talks outside of Spain with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Spain's government was hoping that election would tamp down a separatist movement.
"The Spanish state was defeated".
With almost all the votes counted the pro-independence parties Together for Catalonia (JxCat) Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and Popular Unity (CUP) were on course to win a total of 70 seats giving them a majority in the new parliament. "Mariano Rajoy has received a slap in the face from Catalonia".
But pro-independence parties - Puigdemont's Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia), left-republican ERC and the anti-capitalist CUP - together won 70 seats, two above a majority but two less than in the previous parliament.
"The pro-secession forces can never again claim they speak for all of Catalonia", Arrimadas said, promising her party will continue to oppose the separatists.
"The election has resolved very little", said Andrew Dowling, a specialist in Catalan history at Cardiff University in Wales.
Catalonia's deposed President has said a de facto vote on independence is a chance for the region to "return to normality".
As she put it: "I am so happy that we have shown to the rest of Europe and the rest of the world that not everyone in Catalonia is against Spain. there are a lot of people here who want to be part of Spain".
Voter turnout hit a record high, soaring above 80 percent. At the heart of the battle instead was the recent independence push that led to Spain's worst political crisis in decades.
Puigdemont's government held an independence referendum, despite it having been deemed illegal by Spanish courts. He introduced direct rule in Catalonia at the end of October after the region's nationalist government had issued a unilateral declaration of independence.