Nov. 22 - As pro-independence feelings rise in Catalonia ahead of a snap regional election on Sunday (November 25), business is booming for a tailor making Catalan flags and a shop selling Catalan souvenirs. Hayley Platt reports.
Tailor Margarita Bascompte has never been busier. After eight years running a business in Catalan she's found a booming niche market. She specialises in Estelada flags - the unofficial symbol of those who seek independence for the Spanish region. (SOUNDBITE) (Catalan) BASCOMPTE OWNER MARGARITA BASCOMPTE, SAYING: "Even older people buy them. Elderly people used to be afraid of hanging the "Estelada" up, but now they want it too. It is not only a youth thing." Catalonia is Spain's wealthiest region. Its car industry, chemical plants and banks, account for a fifth of Spain's economy. But each year it gives Madrid 16 billion euros more than it gets back. That source of resentment has fuelled the separatist movement. On Sunday Catalan will chose a new government. Polls suggest pro-independence parties will do well giving the region's President a mandate to hold a referendum on succession. (SOUNDBITE) (Catalan) CATALAN PRESIDENT ARTUR MAS, SAYING: "If they don't want to be the state that allows Catalonia to progress and make it respectable then we just need a state of our own." But some fear Catalans don't fully understand the consequences. Klaus Jurgen Nagel is a professor of political science in Barcelona. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNIVERSITAT POMPEU FABRA PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE KLAUS JÜRGEN NAGEL, SAYING: "On the economic side, an independent Catalonia would be one of the middle states in the European Union according to its demography, to its per capita income. It would not be an outlier. It would not be among the poorer ones or the richer ones. It would be more or less in the middle." Catalonia has had its fair share of troubles. It overspent during a decade-long property boom that crashed in 2007. Its debt was downgraded to junk and it can no longer borrow on the markets. If it achieves independence it will also have to leave the European Union. (SOUNDBITE) (Catalan) BARCELONA RESIDENT, FLORIA, SAYING: "I was born here and I feel Catalan and Spanish. I don't see the advantages of such move." But Margarita certainly does - and Sunday's vote will determine how many agree with her.