The Wall Street Journal – Catalonian Calls for Independence Increase

Regional Politician in Spain Causes Headaches for Prime Minister Rajoy With Pledge to Seek Referendum After Elections.

Sunday’s elections in Catalonia could put the wealthy northern region on a path toward independence, possibly triggering a constitutional crisis in austerity-weary Spain.

Some of the toughest budget cuts anywhere in the country have helped to exacerbate the traditional Catalan grievance that too much of the tax revenue they generate flows to poorer regions. Catalonia’s government calculates it pays about €15 billion ($19 billion) more than it gets back from the national treasury every year. Regional leader Artur Mas has pledged to hold a referendum on independence if, as expected, he wins re-election.

But he can’t do that on his own. Only the central government can authorize referendums, and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said it won’t do so in Catalonia. Mr. Mas’s plans present a major headache for Mr. Rajoy at a time when he is preoccupied with stabilizing Spain’s precarious financial situation.

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