Barcelona, with its dreamy unfinished cathedral, dreams of being the capital of an independent Catalunya.
It is currently dotted with caged ballot boxes, put there by activists angered at Madrid’s outlawing of a November 9 referendum on the question.
Defying a court order suspending the referendum vote, the leader of the Catalunyan government, Artur Mas, has set up a seven-person panel to supervise the November 9 poll, which he insists will now go ahead.
Overnight police moved into the central square in the city to remove a sit-in protest by young people in support of independence, but not everyone is happy at the rising nationalist tide. After staying quiet during much of the debate about Catalunya’s future several business leaders have now come out against.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called an emergency cabinet meeting once Mas’s intentions to defy the courts and set up his referendum panel became clear, and his People’s Party in Catalunya will appeal against the setting up of the panel.