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The government consists of a Generalitat (an executive council headed by a president) and a unicameral parliament. The Catalanides have historically separated the industrial towns of the coast from the predominantly agricultural settlements of the hinterlands.

After the marriage of John II’s son Ferdinand with Isabella of Castile (1469) had brought about the unification of Spain, Catalonia became of secondary importance in Spanish affairs.One of Barcelona’s plants produces electric automobiles for Nissan.Catalonia’s growing demand for petroleum products led to the expansion of Tarragona’s petroleum refineries.In the War of the Spanish Succession, Catalonia declared its support for the archduke Charles and resisted the accession of the Bourbon dynasty in Spain, but in 1714 it was completely subjugated by the forces of the Bourbon Philip V, who abolished the Catalan constitution and autonomy. Catalan nationalism became a serious force after 1876, when the defeat of the Carlists led the church to transfer its support to the movement for autonomy.Catalan nationalism had two major strands: a conservative, Roman Catholic one and a more liberal, secular one.

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