UK & World News
Catalonia Holds Vote That Could Reshape Spain
Polls have opened in Spain's wealthy region of Catalonia for an election that could determine whether it eventually breaks away from the rest of the country.
The region must choose a new assembly, after a campaign dominated by the issue of independence from Spain and financial woes.
Opinion polls show that most voters will cast ballots for pro-independence parties, with Catalan President Artur Mas expected to win re-election.
Mr Mas has advocated independence despite strong resistance from Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who has been fighting deep recession in his country.
"I hope to be the last president of a Catalonia that the Spanish state is trying to destroy," Mr Mas told a recent campaign rally for his conservative Convergence and Union Party.
"The next one will not depend on the Spanish state and they will no longer be able to destroy it," he told supporters, who chanted back to him: "Independence! Independence!"
If the vote today goes his way, he has promised to call a referendum on statehood within four years.
Like the Basque Country, Catalonia - a northeastern region of 7.5 million people - has its own language and sees itself as different from the rest of Spain.
Until recently, Catalans were content just pushing for greater autonomy, and stopped short of seeking independence.
But Spain's economic woes, including a 25% unemployment rate, and tough austerity measures imposed by Madrid have added to the Catalans' discontent and persuaded many they would be better off on their own.
Catalonia has a significant weight in Spain's economy, accounting for one-fifth of its total output, and a greater share of its exports.
It features one of the world's greatest football teams, FC Barcelona, which contributes many players to Spain's World Cup winning national squad.
However, the region has also suffered from Europe's financial crisis and has a 44bn euro debt.
In the voting for the regional assembly, called by Mr Mas two years ahead of schedule, 135 seats are up for grabs, with Mr Mas' alliance expected to take 60-64, according to recent surveys.
what do you think?
If it breaks away that's Barcelona out of la liga, just for starters. Would be war if they got autonomy. Can't see Spain allowing. I think its something you can vote for within a region, but no way would their parliament accept it.
i think people are going to vote on this and most will not be thinking about where a football team will play
football was my starting point get a grip mister
Watch this space. Within the next 2 years there will be terrorism in Europe by fellow Europeans. This recession is no joke. Really going to divided people. Much hunger and poverty on the horizon
There has been european terrorist groups for ages Spain had basque seperatists ETA that wanted to split from the rest of spain.
i know chris but the split is becoming ever so big in europe
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PEOPLE ON THIS SITE ARE DISING SCOTLAND ,,if we won independance.why... if this happened this would mean no more tax tax tax to keep (LONDON) no other place in england going,,5 million people live there about half are none brits .and the price of property is a joke all houses are made of bricks and wood.yet in london it costs 2 or 3 times the price of the rest of G.B fact.scotland has more to offer than sheep and fishing..and 20 years from now we would be scottish people here .and london will be a muslim city and that is a (FACT)
david get back in your stye