The Guardian – Catalonia elections 2012 – Spain set for showdown in battle for independence

Catalonia is preparing to vote in an election that could determine not just its future, but the shape of Spain and, perhaps, even the European Union.

The Generalitat, or autonomous government, polls – which have been called early after the Spanish prime minister refused even to discuss Catalonia’s demands to collect its taxes – will in effect be a plebiscite on whether the region has a future within Spain.

The Catalan leader, Artur Mas, has pledged that if, as expected, his centre-right nationalist alliance is returned as the largest bloc in the 135-seat parliament, and successfully forms a majority with other pro-independence parties, he will call a referendum on whether the region should become an independent state.

Since Madrid insists that a Catalan referendum violates Spain’s 1978 constitution, and that it will use the full force of the law to prevent one, the stage seems set for a showdown.

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