Spain: Differences over independence drive splits ruling Catalan coalition

Differences over a push for independence in Spain's northeastern Catalonia region have torn apart the governing coalition group, an alliance that has ruled the region for much of the past 40 years.

The Convergence and Union party pact was declared finished Thursday by Convergence, a day after Union pulled out of the regional government after deciding not to back regional president Artur Mas' plans to use local elections in September as a referendum on independence.

A conservative, business-friendly grouping, Convergence and Union has governed Catalonia for 28 of the almost 40 years since Spain veered back toward democracy on the death of dictator Gen. Francisco Franco in 1975.

Catalans are more or less evenly divided on independence although most favor the right to vote, a possibility Spain has ruled out.