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Detoxifying Spain's Separatist Debate

No matter what happens in Catalonia next month, a referendum won't settle matters.
Turning their backs on Madrid.

Turning their backs on Madrid.

Photographer: Albert Llop/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Catalonia's separatist leaders say they will declare independence from Spain within 48 hours of victory in the independence referendum they've called for Oct. 1. Spain's highest court has ruled the referendum unconstitutional, and the government is determined to disrupt the ballot.

A toxic combination of festering frustrations, nationalist myth, and mismanagement by Madrid has brought Spain to this point. Climbing down won't be easy for either side, but it's both possible and necessary.