In a vote widely seen as a test of support for independence from Spain, a majority of voters in Catalonia have picked separatist candidates in regional elections. The result makes a genuine referendum on independence within the next few years more likely, but with the separatist vote split among four parties, it's not clear who will spearhead the effort, the New York Times reports. The party of Catalan President Artur Mas, who wants the region to secede, has lost seats in the regional parliament and he will now have to strike alliances with smaller parties who agree on Catalan independence but little else.
"Mas managed to turn separatism into a burning issue, but then ended up being overtaken by more radical parties in this debate and now finds himself in a much harder position to govern Catalonia in a time of crisis," a newly elected Socialist lawmaker says. Polls show that support for independence in the relatively wealthy region has more than doubled to 57% since Spain's economic crisis began, though the government in Madrid has vowed to fight the independence movement every step of the way, the Telegraph reports.