Julio Iglesias in Mexico, celebrating his 72nd birthday. | Alex Cruz


Catalonia should stick with Spain and avoid disaster, Spain’s foreign minister has said, becoming the only member of Madrid’s government to debate on television with a secessionist adversary on the heated topic of Catalan independence. The fact that Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo had agreed to participate in the televised debate at all was in itself a “great success” for the separatist camp, argued Oriol Junqueras, head of the ERC (Catalonia Republican Left), given the lack of dialogue with Madrid.

The sparring match came ahead of Sunday’s election which separatists have billed as a proxy vote on independence from Spain - a description rejected by Madrid. If they win a majority as polls indicate, the secessionists plan to declare independence from Spain unilaterally in around 18 months’ time. It is far from clear, however, what, if anything, this would mean in practical terms.
“When friends want to throw themselves off a bridge, my job is not to encourage but to dissuade them,” Margallo said in the debate on Catalan channel 8TV.

This week Spanish institutions have fired a salvo of warnings about what will happen if Spain’s wealthiest region breaks away. Junqueras said such statements depicted “an apocalypse lacking credibility.”

Meanwhile, Julio Iglesias has added his voice to those opposed to Catalonian independence, considering that President Artur Mas's leading of Catalonia to separation was a "negative" thing. Pro-independence politicians, the singer said, should "understand a little more that they can reach an agreement much better with the national government". He believes that Prime Minister Rajoy would have much to gain from dialogue with Mas by saying let's see how we can get understanding. Sr. Iglesias said he believe in federalism and a federal Spain.