Catalonia to Test Spanish Unity With Separatist Vote
Spain’s Catalonia region, fed up with the tax demands of cash-strapped Madrid, was expected to elect on Sunday a separatist government that will try to hold a referendum on independence.
Pro-independence flags, a star against red and yellow stripes, hung on balconies in Catalonia’s capital, Barcelona, as people cast ballots in a vote that could plunge Spain into a constitutional crisis even as it struggles to avoid an international bailout.
An economic crisis and 25 percent unemployment in Spain have reignited long-dormant separatism in industrial Catalonia, where people widely believe the tax system run by Madrid has held back development in a region which has its own financial crisis.
“It’s time for Catalans to pursue their own nation. When you’re in a relationship and you’re not getting along you work for mutual respect. We’ve tried, but Spain hasn’t,” said Jose Manuel Victoria, 67, who voted for the main pro-independence party.
Opinion polls show two-thirds of votes will go to pro-independence parties that will push for a referendum to break away from Spain, which the central government will challenge as unconstitutional.
With more people than Denmark and an economy almost as big as Portugal’s, Catalonia has its own language. Like Basques, Catalans see themselves as distinct from the rest of Spain.