Catalonia leaders campaign from Prison ahead of December 21st election

Spain imposed direct rule in October. "Our aspiration is a free Catalonia". "For me these words were like a dagger in my back", she told VOA.

"Carme Forcadell (speaker of the Catalan parliament) is not the toughest - it's Marta Rovira", one of her relatives told the national daily El Confidencial, adding: "It was she who advised Puigdemont last September to avoid elections, and instead to declare the independence of the Catalan parliament unilaterally".

Originally from Jerez de la Frontera in the southwestern region of Andalusia, Arrimadas speaks perfect Catalan and is married to a former nationalist Catalan lawmaker, making her a perfect symbol of the diversity that makes up the region's society in the eyes of many voters.

For their part, the parties that back staying with Spain accuse the separatists of damaging Catalonia, one of the country's economic powerhouses.

An aggregate of polls published by the daily El Pais suggests that the pro-independence Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) will come top, winning 33 seats, with one or two seats more than Ciudadanos (Cs), which wants unity with Spain.

Several members of the ousted Cabinet, including Puigdemont, campaigned from Brussels, where they sought refuge from Spanish justice.

While Spain eventually dropped an international arrest warrant for Puigdemont, he will still be detained if he returns to the country, raising the question of how he might govern should he win.

Junqueras has been imprisoned since November 2, when eight ministers were jailed for their pro-independence actions. "Imagine if Puigdemont is elected president again". Serra said Puigdemont could even form a "government in exile".

"Sales have fallen between 30% and 40%, and for me the political situation is very worrying, In the end all we are interested in is working, paying our workers and reaching the end of the month".

Campaigning hit fever pitch on Monday in Catalonia, just three days before a pivotal election aiming to break the deadlock in Spain's worst crisis in decades. "If you want an independent Catalonia, you're a traitor". "The ground in Catalonia has really shifted".

"See? This is what riles me up". Field also spoke at the panel, which was jointly hosted by the Wilson Center and the Elcano Royal Institute, a Madrid-based think tank.

Any secessionist winner would need the backing of the radical leftist CUP party, which demands immediate, unilateral independence for Catalonia.

ERC leader Oriol Junqueras, vice president of the dissolved Catalan government, is in prison along with about a dozen other officials facing charges of sedition and other high crimes for going ahead with the Oct. 1 referendum, which Madrid considered unconstitutional.

Easier said than done, getting politicians to work together who are bitterly opposed on the very issue of Catalonia's existence within the Spanish state.

"Their hope is to stop being Spaniards". Many of the leaders of the secessionist movement have been arrested.

Before he finished talking, a man wearing a safety pin calling for the release of Catalan leaders jailed for rebellion and other crimes over their separatist drive bumped into him.

And Catalonia, which represents a fifth of Spain's economy, is too large to be "fully assimilated" by Madrid, said Josep Colomer, an adjunct professor of politics at Georgetown University. He heads the left-wing republican ERC party tipped to be among the most voted in Thursday's election.

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