Independence flags fluttering from balconies, Catalans voted Sunday in an election that could set the region on a path to divorce from Spain.
Artur Mas, president of the northeastern region, is promising to hold a referendum on self-determination if he wins a mandate.
The prospect of a break-up of Spain sparked an open conflict with Madrid and overwhelmed debate about the region’s sky-high public debt, savage spending cuts, unemployment and recession.
An independent Catalonia seems far off, however.Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s right-leaning government says talk of Catalan independence ignores the constitution, flies in the face of common sense and hurts all Spaniards at a time when they need to be united.
The vote could still wedge into the eurozone’s fourth largest economy as it fights the deepest economic crisis since the return of democracy after the death in 1975 of General Francisco Franco.
“This could be an historic moment,” said 27-year-old sociologist Andreu Camprubi waiting to cast his vote for a leftwing pro-independence party at Barcelona’s Pompeu Fabra University. afp