SPANISH Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was thrown a lifeline yesterday with a new poll which suggested that a majority of  Catalans would vote to stay part of Spain. The margin was very slim, with 45.3 percent saying they would vote “no” to an independent state of Catalonia, and 44.5 percent “yes”. It is the first time the “no” vote has taken the lead since Catalan head Artur Mas began his drive for secession in 2012. So perhaps now Rajoy should have the necessary courage to give the green light for a referendum on independence which would finally resolve the issue, once and for all. I have always thought that the majority of Catalans would vote with their head rather than their heart to stay with Spain and Rajoy should act now. By not giving Catalonia a referendum Rajoy is just stoking the fires of independence. He should take heart from the poll. There is speculation that the regional government in Catalonia could call early elections as they press their case for independence. But this  is also a gamble. According to the latest opinion polls the pro-independence parties would not gain an overall majority and therefore would be unable to form a government. The protest party Podemos  is on the rise in Catalonia and at the moment the pro-independence parties are at a crossroads. If they continue their battle for a breakaway from Spain it all might end in tears. The electorate are divided and times are changing in Catalonia.

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