The New York Times – Catalan Leader Boldly Grasps a Separatist Lever

Barcelona, Spain Artur Mas, the leader of Catalonia, has a clear message for Madrid: He is serious about his threat to let the people of Spain’s most economically powerful region decide for themselves in a referendum whether they should remain a part of Spain.

In fact, he said in an interview this week, he would personally vote for independence if the opportunity arose. “Our ideal is to be part of the United States of Europe,” he said.

That kind of posturing has thrust Mr. Mas, 56, to the forefront of Spanish politics and made Catalonia the biggest domestic headache for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who is facing troubles on all sides as he tries to satisfy demands from the European Union to straighten out Spain’s economy and from Spain’s heavily indebted regions, including Catalonia.

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