But there are many other factors at play. The semi-autonomous region of Catalonia is located in the northeastern part of the country and is home to 7.5 million people who represent about 16 percent of the Spanish population and account for 19 percent of Spain’s gross domestic product. It has its own language and culture, as well as long-standing tensions with the rest of Spain.

In an op-ed published Wednesday in the LA Times, American ex-pat in Catalonia, William Cole, described how the fight for independence has evolved over 20 years. “Although many Catalans have long nurtured dreams of independence, until recently only a few marginal cranks made a big deal of it,” he wrote. “Even committed nationalists went about their prosperous lives more or less contentedly, regarding the rest of Spain as something between a nuisance and a joke.”

Cole continued:

Reuters reports that “Mas is due to meet pro-independence parties in Barcelona on Friday to decide strategy following the court ruling. Political analysts have said Mas was likely to call early regional elections, turning it into a de-facto plebiscite on secession.”

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