Filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, writer Mario Vargas Llosa and a long list of Spanish intellectuals published a manifesto Sunday against independence for Catalonia in northeast Spain.

"Several hundred intellectuals and professionals have signed a call in favour of federalism and the left to respond to the growing secessionism being pushed by... the Catalonia government and other nationalist political forces," said the manifesto, published in leading daily El Pais.

"The proponents of independence are making their own idea of Spain the sacrificial lamb that bears the burden of every problem."

The list of signatories includes writers, actors, economists and political leaders from around Spain.

Rich but heavily indebted Catalonia has been in open conflict with the central government in Madrid over its budget and right to impose taxes.

The region's president, Artur Mas of conservative nationalist coalition Convergencia i Unio, has called early elections for November 25, and says he plans to organise a referendum on Catalonia's future if he wins.

According to an opinion poll published Sunday in Catalan newspaper El Periodico, 50.9 percent of the region's people favour an independent Catalan state -- though that number falls to 40.1 percent if independence would mean leaving the European Union.

Spain's crushing economic crisis has forced Catalonia, like most of the country's 17 regions, to adopt harsh austerity measures, including cuts to education and health spending.

The austerity regime has boosted separatist sentiment, and pro-independence demonstrators staged a mass march in Barcelona on September 11.