Separatist party wins EU vote in Spain's Catalonia
A long-standing separatist party, the Republican Left, won the European Parliament elections in Spain's northeastern region of Catalonia on Sunday, official results showed.
The party captured 23.67 percent of the vote, beating the conservative Convergence and Union party, the biggest formation in Catalonia's local parliament, which came in second with 21.86 percent of the vote.
Both parties want to hold a referendum on independence from Spain on November 9, flying in the face of fierce opposition from the central government in Madrid.
The two formed a political alliance last year, but Convergence and Union is seen as more moderate and less ready to risk all-out confrontation with Madrid.
Catalonia political chief Artur Mas of the Convergence and Union party began pushing for a referendum after he failed to clinch a better financial pact from the central government for Catalonia in 2012.
Proud of their distinct language and culture, a growing number of Catalonia's 7.5 million citizens resent the redistribution of their taxes to other parts of Spain and believe the region would be better off on its own.
The 2008 real estate crash that triggered a five-year economic downturn across Spain has added to the pressure for secession over the past two years.
Polls indicate a slim majority of Catalans support independence.
© 2014 AFP