Regional elections that could trigger a Catalonian independence referendum will take place in Spain on Sunday.
A recent convert to the cause is Catalan President Artur Mas, who is expected to be re-elected as Catalonia’s top politician and is one of many pro-independence candidates expected to do well, according to opinion polls.
Speaking to supporters at a campaign rally, Mas said: “Catalonia is one of the oldest nations of Europe and of the world. We are trying to build up a broad majority – a very big and broad majority next Sunday – to build the future of our nation, the future of 7.5 million people of this country.”
Trying to dampen the mood for secession, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party are highlighting the disadvantages, such as an independent Catalonia having to re-apply for EU membership.
Echoing Spain’s King Juan Carlos, PP President Alicia Sanchez Camacho made an appeal for staying together.
“We ask for a vote for unity, to add, not to substract, to guarantee coexistence in Catalonia and not to divide its population,” she said.
While Catalonia is Spain’s wealthiest region, it is also the most indebted to the central government and had to ask for a five billion euro bailout.
However, many Catalans who want to breakaway, highlight their distinct language and culture.