Spain's capital is benefiting from a boom in tourism as numbers fall in Catalonia but the Economy Ministry predicts the separatist crisis will cost the country billions
The divisive fallout from the Catalan elections is being felt across Spain. The country's political crisis over the wealthy northern region was reignited after separatists won a narrow majority in parliament - but failed to get a popular mandate for independence with the public as divided as ever.
Francis Díaz, a cartoonist and filmmaker born in the capital, speaks Catalan and has close links with Barcelona. He says the subject of separatism has become so sensitive; many do not dare speak its name.
"There is a lot of taboo, especially since the independence movement don’t like opposite opinions. It would be very difficult or practically impossible to build a new republic when you have half the population against that project," said Francis. "The situation is a bit like the Brexit. When you hear the call, you have to let yourself go and take part in a cursed referendum that nobody wants, that's illegal, that's unproductive, but you have to join the debate."
More than 3,000 companies have quit Barcelona for the capital. The massive drop in tourism numbers in Catalonia has also benefitted Madrid for now, but Spain says the crisis could cost the entire country some five billion euros.
"Everything that can be done is being done of course because the objective of both the Popular Party and the Spanish government is the well-being of Catalans and the whole of Spain," explained Andrea Levy, deputy Secretary of Studies and Programs of the Popular Party. "We need to develop a framework of coexistence, consensus and, of course, tranquility. That will assure us a future we can build on."
Our correspondent Carlos Marlasca, says there has been little mention of the elections on the streets of the capital: "It will now be the central government that has to deal with the independence majority, at least in terms of seats in Catalonia, where the party that supports the government was the least popular force."