For a fourth consecutive year hundreds of thousands of pro-independence Catalans are gearing up to rally today to break away from Spain, kicking off a fresh secession bid in a push to carve out a new European country.
After the central government rejected efforts by separatists to hold an independence referendum, Catalan politicians are now heading towards a September 27 regional parliamentary election with candidates staking out positions for or against an independent Catalonia.
The northeastern region of 7.5 million people is marked by fierce pride in Catalan language and traditions.
The huge rally for the Catalan National Day holiday marks the kickoff of campaigning for secessionists who say Catalonia is culturally different from Spain, doesn’t get back what it pays in taxes, and that independence is the only way forward.
The latest effort follows rebukes to requests for greater self-governance by the Madrid central government.
The protest also starts an end-game for the independence drive because the election results will determine if the region embarks on an 18-month “path to independence” or puts its secession aspirations on hold.
Madrid has said it will block any formal secessionist process.
Pro-independence parties need to win at least 68 seats in the 135-member regional parliament to push their effort forward, and polls show they’re on track to win a slim majority.
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