Thursday, September 20, 2012

Spain: Economic crisis fans Catalan separatism

(Reuters) - Spain's economic crisis is exposing deep regional fault lines. Among Catalans on Barcelona's boulevards the talk is of independence, and Madrid is worried.

This week the king and prime minister called for national unity to get Spain through its worst downturn in decades, King Juan Carlos recalling the spirit that built a democracy after dictator Francisco Franco's death in 1975.

Popular momentum for independence has never been stronger in Catalonia, a wealthy region in northeastern Spain that generates one fifth of the country's economic output and is home to 16 percent of Spaniards.

More than half of Catalans say they want a separate state, and hundreds of thousands marched in Barcelona last week - the biggest such show of separatist fervor.

Still, few see a rapid road to an independent Catalonia, a dream rooted in the Middle Ages when Barcelona was a Mediterranean trade centre with a parliament. Read More