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Latest update : 2014-10-27

Why does Catalonia want to leave Spain?

© France 24

On November 9, 2014, Catalans were due to vote in a referendum on independence. But the poll was cancelled by the Constitutional Court after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government filed a legal challenge. However, a symbolic consultation will still go ahead. Why is mighty Catalonia so keen to break away from Madrid? Our correspondent in Spain went to meet Catalans.

When Artur Mas, Catalonia’s president, announced in December 2013 that he planned to hold a referendum on self-determination, Spain was about to experience one of its biggest institutional crises since the end of the Franco dictatorship.

Rivalries have always existed between Madrid and Barcelona, most notably during the Spanish Civil War and on the football pitch. But divorce has never been closer.

Galvanised by Scotland holding its own independence referendum, Catalan separatists thought they could persuade Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to grant them the right to decide their future in November. Even Barça, the Catalan football club, publicly lent them its support.

While filming this report in Catalonia, we sought to understand why Catalans wanted this break-up. What causes them to feel so different from other Spaniards?

By Valérie LABONNE , Sarah MORRIS

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