Catalonia is poised to call on Monday an early regional election that will serve as a proxy vote on independence from the rest of Spain, raising tensions with the central government in Madrid. If an alliance of pro-secession parties wins a majority, they will aim to split from Spain within 18 months, despite Madrid’s opposition, Mas has said. The regional government has already started setting up institutions of state, which would swing into gear if the pro-independence camp wins. “We are ready,” Mas repeatedly says during public appearances. Last week, Catalan officials presented plans for a future Catalan tax agency and adopted a decree paving the way for a public credit institution to be turned into a Catalan central bank.
The issue of Catalan independence has been thrust onto the back burner in recent months, with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government more focused on the challenge in a year-end general election from new anti-austerity party Podemos than from Catalan separatists.
But the issue bounced back into the political spotlight in July after parties seeking independence for Catalonia set aside their differences and agreed to run on a joint ticket in the regional polls.