Friday marks not just the National Day of Catalonia but the beginning of a high-stakes election battle. Catalonia goes to the polls on September 27 in a regional election that is being billed as a second vote on independence. Last year, in an unofficial referendum, 80pc voted to leave Spain, on a turnout of 40pc. A move for Catalan independence could throw the EU into a new political crisis and create havoc for the Spanish economy, which is only just emerging from a long downturn. Catalonia has traditionally been Spain’s industrial and economic powerhouse, but the separatist movement has been growing in strength for decades.
Here’s why the fiercely independent province could be Europe’s next big problem. All 135 seats in the Catalan parliament are up for grabs on September 27, with the election campaign beginning in earnest on September 11. The resulting parliament will also vote in the President of Catalonia.
Pro-independence forces are expected to gain the upper hand in the election – the third in five years – though it could result in a coalition.