Puigdemont told supporters in Brussels as partial results showed that pro-independence parties were on course for an absolute majority.
"This is a result which no one can dispute," Puigdemont told supporters in Brussels as partial results showed that pro-independence parties were on course for an absolute majority.
"I think we have earned our right to be listened to."
As loyalists shouted "president, president", Puigdemont also lashed out at Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who called the election in a bid to end Spain's worst political crisis in decades.
Puigdemont said it was "a slap" for the Spanish premier, adding: "Rajoy has lost the mandate he sought."
Puigdemont was axed as president of Catalonia after holding an independence referendum that Madrid deemed illegal.
He and four former ministers then fled to Belgium to avoid charges of rebellion and sedition. Spain dropped a European arrest warrant for them earlier this month but they still face arrest if they return to their homeland.
Puigdemont said he also aimed to win the support of the European Union for his cause, but it has so far backed Rajoy, saying it backs constitutional order, and that it is an internal matter for Spain.
The European Commission, the executive arm of the 28-nation bloc, said that its stance remained the same whatever the result of Thursday's vote.
"Our position on the question of Catalonia is well known and has been regularly restated, at all levels. It will not change," commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein told AFP.
"In relation to a regional election, we have no comment to make."