Separatist parties likely to win Catalonia vote
Calls for independence are gaining momentum in the traditionally separatist Catalonia Province in northeastern Spain.
Pro-independence parties are likely to win Sunday's regional parliamentary election, reflecting people's frustration with the central government's austerity measures.
Catalan Province President Artur Mas dissolved parliament last month and called an election to let voters decide whether to seek independence. As vote-counting continues, local media say that Mas's pro-independence party is likely to win the most votes. The party is expected to form an alliance with 3 other separatist parties with strong showings ahead of the election to secure a majority of seats in parliament.
Mas has promised to start procedures for declaring independence early in the New Year if pro-independence forces win the election. That would be a direct challenge to the central government which sees such a move as unacceptable. The outcome of the Catalan vote is expected to have a nationwide impact, and on the European debt crisis as well.