Catalonia thinks about going single

 A tax revolt in the prosperous Spanish region has become a powerful secessionist movement that’s challenging the government.

It was impressive, especially if seen from the sky in the helicopter feed endlessly rebroadcast by regional media. On 11 September 2013 hundreds of thousands of Catalans calling for secession from Spain held hands in a 480 kilometer human chain running from the Pyrenees to the south of the region. The massive demonstration took place on the Catalan national holiday, la Diada, which commemorates the fall of Barcelona to Bourbon troops in 1714 during the War of Spanish Succession. As is usual for separatist events, the chain was formed at 5:14 pm, that is, at 17.14 hrs military time.

The challenge to the Spanish central government, like others of its kind, was drenched in patriotic symbolism and national emotions. Since 2014 marks the third centennial of the historic Catalan defeat, it is seen by promoters as a mystical ‘year of grace’ in which to celebrate a referendum to secede from Spain. Regional President Artur Mas, of the nationalist conservative coalition Convergència i Unió (CiU), presses for the secessionist ‘consulta’, hard-pressed himself by the leftist nationalists of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), the second party in the Region. The ERC insists on holding the vote in 2014, not only to capitalize on the emotional mood of the 300th anniversary of 1714, but also to mirror the Scottish referendum for secession from the United Kingdom, to be held in September. Madrid, of course, is not amused.

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