Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Tuesday urged a big turnout in a regional election in Catalonia next month to counter separatists who want to turn the election into a vote on independence.
Catalonia on Monday called early regional elections for September 27, polls that will serve as a proxy vote on independence from Spain and raise tensions with the central government in Madrid.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday backed a former mayor whose comments have been called xenophobic as his party's top candidate for regional elections in independence-minded Catalonia.
Catalan separatists said they were ready to declare unilateral independence if Madrid attempted to block a separation process they hope to launch if successful in September's regional elections.
The junior party in the coalition that runs Catalonia said Wednesday that its three ministers were pulling out of the regional government due to disagreements over its push to break away from Spain.
Catalan president Artur Mas has called a snap election in September to try to win a majority in favour of independence from Spain for the wealthy region as he tries to revive a secession movement that shows signs of cooling.
Catalonia on Wednesday called a snap election for September centred on its independence bid, just two months after the wealthy region held a contested symbolic referendum on the issue that strained ties with Spain's central government.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said in Catalonia Saturday that he would not allow any challenge to national unity, on his first visit to the region since its symbolic vote on independence.
Spanish prosecutors said Wednesday they will take legal action against Catalan president Artur Mas after he went ahead with a symbolic independence referendum in defiance of a court injunction.
Although nearly two million people voted 'Yes' in Catalonia's symbolic ballot on independence, analysts say nationalists will struggle for a majority in their drive to break away from Spain.
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday branded the Catalonia region's symbolic vote on independence a failure and rejected its call for a full referendum on breaking away from Spain.
Luis Guevara hoped politicians in Catalonia would turn their focus to the economy after Sunday's symbolic independence referendum, but now he fears a strong turnout at the poll means more wrangling with the Spanish government.
On Sunday, the Spanish region of Catalonia held its own vote on whether to separate from Spain. The massive vote in favour is seen as a victory for separatists and poses increased difficulties for the Madrid government.
View from Palau Nacional towards Plaça d'Espanya, Barcelona.
This ad to encourage voting in an upcoming election in Catalonian election has both the left and the right furious.
Screen Grab: Young Socialists of Catalonia
Views of Rasquera
Location map showing Catalonia in relation to Spain
La Seu Vella, in Lleida, Spain
Hector Blanco de Frutos
During a match between FC Barcerlona and AC Milan at Barcelona's Nou Camp stadium, the "Associació Catalana Pro Senyera més gran del món" unfurled a giant Catalan flag, covering 145,805.24 square feet (13,545.75 m2) setting a world record for the Largest flag flying in a football stadium, according to World Record Academy.