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Scottish independence: Catalonian lessons for Caledonia?

By Niall O'Gallagher
BBC Scotland news

media captionJordi Pujol was president of Catalonia for 23 years

The former Catalan president, Jordi Pujol, has said that support for independence could increase in Scotland if voters do not get the option of more powers within the UK.

The current government in Barcelona has called for a referendum on independence after Madrid vetoed further fiscal autonomy last month.

A deal on the Scottish referendum is expected to rule out a question on more powers next week.

Jordi Pujol is a towering figure in modern Catalan politics.

Now 82, he was president of the autonomous region from 1980 to 2003.

A friend of the late Labour First Minister Donald Dewar, the former leader of the moderate nationalist party Convergencia Democratica de Catalunya for years championed an autonomous Catalonia within Spain.

So much so he was called a "bulwark" against independence.

But since leaving office he's changed his mind and now supports an independent state for the region of 7.5 million people.

Pro-independence sentiment has grown as a result of the financial crisis and frustration with the attitude of the Spanish government and courts to the Catalan language.

On 11 September - Catalonia's national day - 1.5 million people took to the streets of Barcelona demanding independence.

The next day, the current Catalan president and leader of Mr Pujol's party, Artur Mas, went to Madrid to ask for more fiscal autonomy.

The Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, said no.

Now Mr Mas has called elections and has called for a referendum on independence - something the post-Franco constitution forbids.

A long-term observer of Scottish politics, Mr Pujol told me that the unwillingness of Spain to countenance more powers - or 'Devo Max' option - had led to increased support for independence in Catalonia.

And with a deal between the Scottish and UK governments set to rule out a second question on more powers for Holyrood, he thinks the same thing could happen in Caledonia too.

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