The New York Times – Catalan Vote Could Be a First Step Toward Self-Rule

The depth of Catalonia’s challenge to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy should become clear on Sunday, when an early election could help determine whether Spain’s most powerful economic region eventually splits from the rest of the country.

The vote comes at a difficult moment for Mr. Rajoy, who stands on the front lines of the euro crisis and is under pressure to decide whether Spain needs more financial assistance through bond purchases by the European Central Bank. Mr. Rajoy is also battling record unemployment and street protests against his austerity measures.

Artur Mas, leader of Catalonia’s regional government, called the election two years early after failing to convince Mr. Rajoy to ease Catalonia’s federal tax burden, and following a massive pro- independence rally in Barcelona on Sept. 11. That turnout by hundreds of thousands of Catalans has galvanized the region, where the distinctive Catalan flag is on display in shops, bars, and even bare hilltops.

Read @ The New York Times