By James Bryce
THE deep divide between Madrid and Barcelona remains as strong as ever following a significant weekend for Spain’s future.
While Catalan voters took to the polls to show their support for secession, Fascists marked the 37th anniversary of Franco’s death with Nazi salutes at rallies in Madrid.
During Franco’s dictatorship – from 1939 to 1975 – showing support for Catalan nationalism, such as speaking the language, was made illegal.
In Cataluna, separatists won the regional elections but no party earned the overall majority needed to push for a referendum on independence.
Collectively, four different separatist parties have earned a majority in the Catalan parliament, but ideological differences make an alliance highly unlikely.
The ruling CiU party, headed by Catalan President Artur Mas, held on to power despite suffering big loses due to unpopular austerity measures.
Mas’s party lost 12 seats, dropping from 62 to 50, while rival party Catalan Republican Left (ERC) became Cataluna’s second party after enjoying big gains.
“They agree on the issue of the right to decide the future of the Catalan people, but on economic issues they have opposite positions,” said Carlos Berrera, a communications professor at the University of Navarra.
The result means the only real winner is the Spanish government, which is strongly against the idea of holding an independence referendum.
“It is a good result for Cataluna, Spain and Europe,” said Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo.