MADRID (AP) — Campaigning for regional elections in Spain's wealthy and influential northeastern region of Catalonia ends late Friday.
With 135 parliamentary seats available, regional president Artur Mas' center-right Catalan Nationalist Coalition is ahead in the polls. Mas has made independence from Spain a central issue in his bid for votes and his rallies have bristled with European Union flags, with the 56-year-old politician voicing optimism that an independent Catalonia would be swiftly embraced into the 27-nation bloc.
Polls open Sunday morning when Mas' plans will be put to the vote. If successful, he has pledged to hold a referendum on independence to test the popularity of the theoretical creation of a free Catalonia in Europe. Mas ousted the Socialist party in elections in November 2010.