Catalonia — that rebellious, anarchist, andinsanely beautiful region of Spain — already feels like an independent state. For years the region relished a striking level of autonomy from the central government.

But in 2010, the Spanish constitutional court rolled back much of that autonomy, setting off renewed calls for independence. Last year almost to the day, Catalonia held a non-binding vote on independence. The people voted for it, but the turnout was low. And, anyway, it wasn’t recognized by Spain.

Yesterday, a majority of Catalonia’s local parliament approved measures that would accelerate the region’s secession, creating state institutions like a tax agency and social security system.

The move followed regional elections in September. That vote gave separatist parties the majority of seats in the regional parliament. But it didn’t give them a majority of the votes overall. This and the low voter turnout in the first referendum on independence last year has cast doubt on just how much Catalans really care about secession.

The intensified effort toward independence right now probably has at least something to do with the political future of Artur Mas, Catalonia’s regional leader. Mas and his political party have been plagued by corruption scandals. The leader could actually be voted out of office by Thursday. So some think the whole push for independence is really just a selfish means for Mas to curry favor with voters.

By Peter Gelling, GlobalPost
This article is syndicated from GlobalPost.