Separatist parties in Catalonia have won a regional election, further pushing the leadership to consider holding a vote to break with Spain.
Supporters of Catalan President Arthur Mas, who has moved from a moderate position to the separatist camp over time, won 50 of the 135 seats in the regional assembly.
Mas has pledged a referendum on separation within four years. However, with the bleak economic future of Spain -- now in recession and facing a future marked by the need for European bailouts -- the vote on separation may come far sooner rather than later.
Catalans make up 16 percent of Spain's population, yet they contribute 19 percent of the country's economic output. And there is simply a growing sense that the people of Catalonia do not want to be burdened with Spain's economic problems.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is trying to undercut the threat by describing the move to separate from Spain as "unconstitutional." To this point, Mas simply speaks past Rajoy by pointing out that Catalonia can have a "brilliant" future instead of a "gray" one if it will but cut ties with Spain.