An undated picture of General Francisco Franco riding his horse. Towards the end of his regime, Franco had started to open the country up to tourism and international trade, but in many ways Spain’s economy was still lagging behind its European neighbours. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Economic and social progress brought great confidence before a harsh reality check

The republican mausoleum bearing the blotted inscription ‘Honor a los caidos’ (Honor to the fallen) in Belchite, Aragon. Photograph: Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty

General’s principles still lauded by supporters on 40th anniversary of his death

Acting President of Catalonia Artur Mas. Opponents say many Catalans do not want independence.  Photograph: Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Tensions within separatist movement may stall ‘democratic disconnection’ from Spain

The independence initiative has deeply divided the Catalan parliament, which passed a motion declaring the start of the secession process. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

Region is taking the first steps towards seceding from Spain

Melilla’s temporary stay centre for immigrants. Photograph: Guy Hedgecoe

Tensions as refugee centre overflows with ever more long-term residents

Volkswagen  admitted this week that 800,000 of its cars around the world have  faulty CO2 emissions.  Photograph:  Reuters

Some estimate reimbursement linked to emissions scandal could amount to €50m

Pope Francis, who has received  a dossier containing allegations of “sexual slavery” in Kenya by a missionary order. Photograph: Angelo Carconi/EPA

Man writes to pope and takes case to Vatican

Spain’s prime minister Mariano Rajoy is meeting the leaders of the  Ciudadanos and Podemos parties on Friday as he tries to build an alliance against Catalan secession.  Photograph: Juan Medina

Prime minister Mariano Rajoy to meet leaders of Ciudadanos and Podemos parties

Spain’s prime minister Mariano Rajoy: Vowed  to thwart Catalan independence. Photograph: Juan Medina/Reuters

PM suggests he may use courts to block move as separatists eye quick seceession

Portuguese president Aníbal Cavaco Silva: described a Socialist-Communist-BE coalition as “a clearly inconsistent alternative” which threatened to undermine the economy. Photograph: Manuel De Almeida/EPA.

Cavaco Silva accused of acting beyond his brief in blocking formation of left-wing coalition

Armed response: police at the arrest of two suspected Eta members in July. Photograph: Iroz Gaizka/AFP/Getty

It’s four years since the terrorist group ended its armed campaign for an independent Basque state. But the legacy of violence is (...)

Catalan president Artur Mas thanks followers as he leaves the Superior Court of Catalonia in Barcelona on Thursday. Photograph: Andreu Dalmau/EPA

Hundreds on streets in Barcelona waving region’s flag and chanting ‘independence’

African migrants sit on a border fence above a golf course during an attempt to cross into Spanish territories between Morocco and Spain’s north African enclave of Melilla. Photograph: José Palazon/Reuters

Many try to reach Europe via highly policed Spanish territory of Melilla in north Africa

The general election result was a clear victory for prime minister and Social Democratic party leader Pedro Passos Coelho but the coalition no longer controls parliament. Photograph: Juan Medina/Reuters

Centre-right partnership received 38.5% of the votes – but it will have to read carefully

Pedro Passos Coelho: ‘We’ve spent four years talking about finances and the economy and now everything is in order we can put the dignity back into politics.’ Photograph: Miguel A Lopes/EPA.

Passos Coelho’s Social Democratic Party goes into weekend election with four-point lead

Artur Mas, the leader of Catalonia’s independence drive, is summoned to court. Photograph: Sergio Perez/Reuters

Artur Mas faces charges over disobeying ruling on 2014 independence referendum

Catalonia’s pro-independence party leaders celebrate after the results of the regional election in Barcelona on Sunday night. Photograph: Jorge Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy refuses to give any ground to the separatists

Catalan premier Artur Mas casts his vote  in Barcelona on Sunday. Photograph: Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Independence from Spain was the key issue in yesterday’s regional elections

Nationalists had used the regional election as a plebiscite on independence.

Government waves legal stick to warn against moves towards independence

The argument between party leaders Alfred Bosch of ERC (right) and Alberto Fernandez Diaz of PPC (second right) over the  unofficial flag of the Catalonian independent movement and the  Spanish flag   ended when deputy mayor  Gerardo Pisarelo (fourth left) took the flags away. Photograph: Alberto Estevez/EPA

Nationalist parties are threatening to secede from Spain depending on results of vote

Perils of protest: Not only does Catalonia risk leaving the euro, it could could also see FC Barcelona barred from playing in the Spanish league. Photograph: Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images

‘Propaganda war’ between separatists and unionists pivots on EU membership

A giant leap for Catalan’s? “El Llibre de les Meravelles” (or “The Book of Marvels”) has been published just as the attention of Spain, and much of Europe, is focused on Catalonia ahead of its regional election on September 27th

Doctored images in ‘The Book of Marvels’ poke fun at customary triumphalism

Osama Abdul Mohsen, the Syrian refugee who made world headlines when a Hungarian journalist tripped him over as he fled, addresses journalists next to the director of the Spanish football coaching school, Miguel Ángel Galán   after arriving   in Madrid. Photograph: Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images

Hungarian camera operator who stuck her foot out in front of migrants dismissed

People march  in Barcelona for Catalan independence on  Catalan  National Day. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

Catalans mark national day and the beginning of an election campaign

The Catalan flag on the facade of the Palau de la Generalitat in Barcelona during a ceremony to mark national day. Photograph: Gustau Nacarino/Reuters

Catalan nationalists use the Diada to campaign for independence

While the conservative government highlighted that Spain’s unemployment had dropped by 360,000 over the last 12 months, many observers have cast in doubt prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s assertion that the macroeconomic recovery is reaching ordinary Spaniards.  Photograph: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Spanish recovery yet to really dent unemployment as classified advertisement shows

Regional premier Artur Mas intends to begin a unilateral secession from Spain if pro-independence parties gain more than half the seats in the Catalan election. Photograph: Lluis Genelluis/AFP/Getty Images

Polls indicate election will be tightly fought

Rodrigo Rato  leaving  his office in April after being charged with fraud. Photograph: Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images

App inspired by real-life scenarios such as arrest of former minister Rodrigo Rato for fraud

Activists lie half-naked covered in fake blood during a protest against bullfighting in Vitoria, northern Spain. Photograph: David Aguilar/EPA

Animal rights group takes legal action over killing of bull amid changing attitudes

Spain’s King Felipe with Catalan governor Artur Mas after his arrival for their meeting at the Zarzuela palace in Madrid last month. Photograph: Andrea Comas/ Reuters

If Artur Mas and allies win, they plan to have independent Catalan state by 2016 or 2017

Paco Arcadio: “We didn’t go there for money, we went there for a higher reason – because of our ideology, we went because of our principles.”

Two men who fought alongside Kurds face terrorism charges after returning home

Image on Toros magazine sparks row over ‘feminised’ image of bullfighter

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy greets people at the non-profit Tomillo foundation in Madrid, Spain. Photograph: Juan Medina/Reuters

At 22.4%, the rate is just below the level when prime minister Mariano Rajoy took office

Republican soldiers fighting in the Spanish Civil War. Photograph: STF/AFP/Getty Images

State policy of ‘don’t mention the war’ now challenged by growing curiosity

Hundreds of Moroccans protested against the arrest of two women with outfits deemed inappropriate who were charged of ‘gross indecency’, and the assault of a homosexual by a group of people in the city of Fez. Photograph: Abdelhak Senna/EPA

Recent incidents involving minorities and women suggest rising conservatism

President of Catalonia Artur Mas first proposed the idea of a cross-party pro-independence ticket for the September election. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

Supporters say plan would ‘create a photograph of Catalan society’

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias embraces Panayota Maniou, a member of the Syriza delegation to the European Parliament, during a demonstration in Madrid in support of Greece. Photograph: Susana Vera/Reuters

Spain keen to be seen as the ‘good student’ in the euro zone classroom

Spain’s economy   minister Luis de Guindos says Spain’s economy  is in good shape. Photgraph: Andrea Comas/Reuters

However observers say that Spain is not immune to contagion

Secretary general of the Spanish Socialist Party Pedro Sánchez and his wife, Begoña Fernandez, wave in front of the national flag  during his official presentation in Madrid  as a candidate for the next general election. Photograph: Dani Pozo/AFP/Getty

Pedro Sánchez’s use of national ensign at Madrid election address causes controversy

The Ducal Palace of Medina Sidonia in Sanlucar de Barrameda, Cadiz, Andalucia. Luisa Isabel Álvarez de Toledo, the Duchess of Medina Sidonia, was an outspoken campaigner against Franco’s right-wing dictatorship. Photograph:  Cristina Arias/Cover/Getty Images

Latest twist in extraordinary story of ‘Red Duchess’ of Media Sidonia

The unfinished dome of the cathedral being built by former Trappist monk Justo Gallego  , in Mejorada del Campo, Spain. Photograph: Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Justo Gallego’s work is divinely inspired or an eyesore, depending on your perspective

Manuela Carmena: her honeymoon period as Madrid’s new mayor lasted just a few hours. Photograph: AFP Photo/Gerard Julien

Guillermo Zapata wrote tweets in 2011 mocking victims of Holocaust and Eta

Manuela Carmena, the retired judge who last month took Madrid’s municipal election by storm and is expected to be confirmed as the city’s mayor today. Photograph: Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images

Retired judge Manuela Carmena set to be confirmed as Spanish capital’s mayor

 Former  Spanish prime minister Felipe Gonzalez speaks to journalists after a meeting  Lilian Tintori (right)  and other  wives of Venezuelan imprisoned opposition leaders, and  members of the opposition alliance  in Caracas, on Monday. Photograph: Miguel Gutierrez/EPA

Felipe González cuts short trip after being denied visit to politicians in jail

A 39-year-old Spanish woman called Lupe says her life was put in serious danger by Ireland’s abortion legislation

Spanish woman forced to carry dead foetus for weeks due to ‘religious fundamentalism’

Supporters of Barcelona wave Catalan independentist flags “Estelada” during the   King’s Cup final at the Camp Nou stadium: the anti-Spanish message was widely anticipated by authorities. Photograph: Lluis Genelluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images

Both Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao fans booed as Spanish anthem was played

The two wounds on “Skull 17”, as it is known, were sustained on the forehead, above the left eye, and were extremely close to each other.  Photograph: Javier Trueba/Madrid Scientific Films/Reuters

Injuries found on 430,000-year-old skull suggest ‘deliberate aggression’, scientists say

Ada Colau at a press conference to evaluate Sunday’s election results in Barcelona. Photograph: Josep Lago/AFP

Left-leaning Colau can now be an activist in a position of power

Supporters of Podemos in Madrid celebrate after the regional and municipal elections in which the big loser was Spain’s ruling Popular Party. Photograph: Andrea Comas/Reuters

Austerity policies and claims of fraud have steered voters towards the new

“People are fed up,” says PP candidate for mayor of Madrid Esperanza Aguirre. Photograph: Gerard Julier/AFP/Getty Images

New left- and right- wing groups set to gain from Popular Party and Socialists

Xosé Filgueira Valverde: Celebration of Galician writer whose political career under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, particularly his term as mayor of Pontevedra between 1959 and 1968, has sparked outrage.

Celebration of Spanish region’s literary heritage marred by controversy

The Guinness Book of Records had rejected the Vitoria bid, due to the fact the tortilla had been put together in what it described as “portions precooked the previous day, like a puzzle”. Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune/MCT/Getty

Failed record attempt for world’s largest tortilla leaves Vitoria with egg on its face

 Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias: “In these elections there aren’t many options, there are basically two: to leave things as they are or to change. We believe things can change.” Photograph: Dani Pozo/AFP/Getty Images

Spanish party’s radical roots left behind as it signals less strident approach

Relatives of imprisoned members of Eta take part in a march demanding the transfer of Eta prisoners to the Basque country in Bilbao in January  2013.  Another thorny issue in the wake of Eta’s ceasefire has been the status of the 500 or so members of the organisation who are still in prison, most of whom are deliberately kept in jails far from their families.   Photograph: Rafa Rivas/AFP/Getty Images

Spanish government has not responded with any measures of its own since Eta ceasefire

Former IMF head and former Spanish Economy minister Rodrigo Rato (centre) is surrounded by the media as he leaves his office  in Madrid last week. Photograph:   Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images

Authorities have frozen 78 bank accounts belonging to former economy minister and IMF chief Rodrigo Rato

Federico Garcia Lorca was driven to the outskirts of his hometown, Grenada, and ‘shot, after having confessed’, a police document states. Photograph: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Poet was killed in 1936 on orders of troops loyal to Franco, police papers confirm

A Red Cross worker with an African migrant after his arrival by sea in Ceuta. Photograph: The Red Cross

Thousands of migrants tried to get to Europe via Ceuta and Melilla last year

Antonio Maria Rouco, former archbishop of Madrid:  living in a luxury €1.7m apartment in central Madrid, paid for by the Catholic Church. Photograph:   Quim Llenas/Cover/Getty Images

He may no longer serve as archbishop of Madrid but he won’t go quietly

Kamal Mohamed in El Príncipe district in Ceuta. He believes extremism is a logical problem in such a marginalised area. Photograph: Guy Hedgecoe

Radical Islamic messages have hit home in two marginalised cities

The Valle de los Caidos monument to the Francoist combatants who died during the Spanish civil war and Franco’s final resting place, just outside Madrid. Photograph: Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images

Valley of the Fallen is a painful reminder to many of Franco’s 36-year dictatorship

Podemos party leader and candidate Teresa Rodríguez  after the Andalusian regional elections, in Seville, southern Spain, on Sunday.  Photograph: Jon Nazca/Reuters

Podemos wins 15 seats in regional poll as Socialists claim ‘historic’ win

Andalusia’s regional government president and Socialist Party candidate Susana Díaz at an election campaign rally in Alcala de Guadaira on March 17th. Photograph: Marcelo Del Pozo/Reuters

The Socialist Party has ruled Andalusia since 1982, but its reign may be coming to an end

Banco Madrid kept the doors of its branches closed on Monday as it emerged the lender had ceased all financial operations and requested a creditors’ meeting. Photograph: Andrea Comas/Reuters

Crisis exacerbated by recent run on reserves as clients withdraw money

Juan Salazar and Jose Salazar of Los Chunguitos, who feature in an episode of  Los Gipsy Kings. Photograph: Europa Press/Europa Press via Getty Images

A reality show is drawing plenty of viewers but is accused of stereotyping

Spainish prime minister Mariano Rajoy: “We’re not responsible for the frustration of the Greek radical left, which promised what it could not deliver, as has been made clear.” Photograph: Andrea Comas/Reuters

Pushing unpopular austerity policies since 2011 leaves little sympathy in Spain and Portugal

Shoppers  in central Madrid: Spain’s economy grew  throughout 2014,  outstripping most forecasts. Photograph: Susana Vera/Reuters

GDP grew 0.7% in fourth quarter of last year, the biggest quarterly increase since 2008, data shows

Juan Carlos Monedero,  third-in-command of Spanish anti-austerity party Podemos, during a press conference in Madrid. Mr Monedero described a controversy over payments he received from from the Venezuelan, Bolivian, Ecuadorian and Nicaraguan governments as a ‘government set up’. Photograph: Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images

Spanish anti-austerity party defends payment to key member from left-wing governments

Anti-abortion protesters rally in Madrid  last year. Some believe the proposed reforms are too timid. Photograph: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Main change requires under-18s to have parental consent

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias: aims to roll back austerity Spain has been implementing for the last five years. PIerre-Philippe Marcou/AFP/Getty Images

Podemos at top of polls, seven points ahead of Popular Party due to 'shift in European politics'

A unit of the new highspeed train built by Spanish manufacturer Talgo is loaded onto a freighter in Barcelona’s port bound for Jeddah City in Saudi Arabia. The Medina-Mecca rail link is plagued by delays, political tensions and technical headaches. Photograph: Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images

Finishing the Medina-Mecca rail link proving to be very problematic for Spanish firms

Podemos supporters at Puerta del Sol square: Saturday’s event was unusual in that it made no specific demands of the government. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

Anti-austerity party leader tells crowd, ‘We are going to beat the PP in the elections’

 Tourists and local people meet near Plaza Mayor, the famous central market place which dates back to the 15th century, in Madrid Photograph: EyesWideOpen/Getty Images

Everything starts later here and keeps going later

Looking up: things have improved since Iberia workers protested in Madrid in 2013. photograph: denis doyle/getty images

Spanish airline Iberia looks set to post its first net annual profit in six years

The remains of a coffin with ‘M.C.’ on it are displayed on a table in the crypt of Madrid’s Las Trinitarias convent. The coffin was found during a search for the remains of Don Quixote author Miguel de Cervantes. Photograph: Madrid City Hall/Sociedad Aranzadi/Reuters

Search for Don Quixote author’s remains led team to coffin under convent floor

Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos, has become a close ally of Alexis Tsipras. Photograph: Aris Messinisaris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images

Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos, has become a close ally of Alexis Tsipras

A government-run employment office in Madrid. Over the last 12 months, 434,000 jobs were generated, bringing the overall unemployment rate in Spain down to 23.7 per cent. Photograph: Andrea Comas/Reuters

Country finally starting to emerge from labour market crisis

Catalan premier Artur Mas, of the nationalist Convergence and Union  coalition, has brought forward the next election of the region’s parliament to September 27th. Photograph: David Ramos/Bloomberg

Ballot in September is seen as step towards full independence from Spain

 A Muslim protester holds a placard  during a demonstration  in Madrid against the recent Paris terrorist attacks. Photograph:   Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

New ID card has serious purpose of making Spain safer

What makes a Spanish omlette? Unlike many other countries, Spain does not have a standardised test for those seeking to be naturalised. Photograph: Jose R Aguirre/Cover/Getty Images

Applicants vetted and asked questions by a judge, who then decides if they qualify

Portugal’s economy minister António Pires de Lima. Photograph: Patricia de Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty Images

Police involved as allegations of fraud are made against the phone company

The people have been arrested in Lanzarote in connection with an investigation into a smuggling and money laundering ring. Photograph: Getty

Man and woman reportedly held over suspected smuggling and money laundering

Farmer Jacinto Serranos with a calf that has been killed by a wolf.  “I can’t sleep at night, I’m always on tenterhooks, wondering if the wolves are going to attack.”

Spain’s protected wolves are heading south and causing havoc for livestock farmers

Mariano Rajoy: so-called transparency portal is the flagship project of  the prime minister’s new transparency law. Photograph: Pau Barrena/Bloomberg

Database will show salaries of public figures, and detail donations, contracts and subsidies

A portrait of Federico García Lorca hangs from a wall in a restaurant near the site where archeologists are searching for a mass grave of victims of the Spanish Civil War in Alfacar, near Granada. Photograph: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Historians believe they have solved mystery of last resting place of Spain’s celebrated poet

Supporters hold up a Catalan independence flag during a conference in Barcelona on Tuesday called  after a symbolic vote on the region’s independence from Spain. Photograph: Gustau Nacarino/Reuters

President aims to run on a united platform with other pro-independence parties

A television screen grab of 85-year-old Carmen Martínez  in her neighbourhood of Vallecas in Madrid. Spanish first division soccer club Rayo Vallecano is to help Ms Martínez, who was evicted on  November 21st from her house in Vallecas, where had lived there for 50 years. Photograph:  EPA/EFE TV

Rayo Vallecano’s staff steps in after 85-year-old is evicted over son’s debt

Pope Francis telephoned the alleged victim of sex abuse by several priests and asked him to “forgive this extremely serious sin”. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Granada archbishop to explain failure to act over suspected abusive priests

 Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy speaks about the recent unofficial Catalonian independence poll  in Madrid yesterday. Photograph:  Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Spanish PM refuses to cede ground despite overwhelming vote in favour of secession

Pro-independence supporters celebrate the results of the informal poll for the independence of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain, on Sunday.Photograph: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

Turnout for unofficial referendum hints at appetite for more formal action

Volunteers count ballots after the closing of a polling station yesterday in Barcelona. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

Overwhelming win expected for pro-independence side in low turnout vote

Spanish nun Teresa Forcades, who has become an increasingly prominent European intellectual. Photograph: Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images

In the past, Teresa Forcades’s views have drawn Vatican reprimands

Rodrigo Rato leaving the High Court after being questioned by a judge investigating the alleged use of credit cards for personal expenses. Photograph: Sergio Perez

Close ties with the political and financial classes sealed the financier’s fate – with jail now a very real possibility

President of Catalonia Artur Mas (left) with leader of the Pro-Independence political party Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya Oriol Junqueras, leaving the Catalan government building in Barcelona, Spain, this week. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

Surging pro-independence leader outflanks moderate rival Mas as tension with Madrid increases

Spaniards protest against corruption after 51 people are arrested as part of an investigation involving local government contracts. Photograph: Sergio Perez/Reuters

Politicians, businesspeople and civil servants implicated in investigation

Working on a replica of the Altamira caves. Photograph: Luis Davilla/Cover/Getty Images

Scientific council says regular visits to Altamira caves could damage wall paintings

The objective is the same, to hold a referendum, but in a different way, says the president of Catalonia Artur Mas. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

A banned vote on independence to be held next month has been cancelled

The Spanish high court is investigating the credit cards, which were given out by Caja Madrid savings bank and Bankia, the lender that absorbed it in 2010, and they were not registered in official accounts.

String of public figures forced to resign in fallout from crisis

Health workers protest in Madrid over the Spanish government’s handling of the Ebola infection. Photograph: Denis Doyle/Getty Images.

What can the world learn from Spain’s experience with the deadly virus?

Health workers protest outside Madrid’s La Paz Hospital, calling for Spain’s health minister, Ana Mato, to resign. Photograph: Andrea Comas/Reuters

Doctors told patient to remain at home when she reported symptoms of fever

Credit cards issued by Spanish savings bank Caja Madrid.

Up to €15.5m allegedly spent by senior figures, some of it on clothes and travel

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