SPAIN - Separatism in Catalonia
Separatism in Catalonia has century-old roots, but it gained considerable strength this decade during the euro debt crisis. The largest pro-independence demonstration was held in September 2012, three months after a Spanish banking bailout. The ruling conservatives in Madrid and Barcelona then fell out over money rather than sovereignty as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy rejected wealthy Catalonia’s demands to reduce its tax contribution to poorer parts of Spain. For many in Catalonia, independence offered a promise of improvement amid the gloom of a lengthy recession.