An exit poll in Catalonia”s regional election puts the Socialist party of former health minister Salvador Illa slightly ahead, although it could be ousted by a coalition of pro-independence parties.
The survey, published by Spain’s public broadcaster after polls closed at 20.00 CET, put the PSC (Socialist Party of Catalonia) on top, with 24.5% of the vote.
However, the survey suggested that the hardline JxC (“Together for Catalonia”) and the more moderate ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia) could once again cobble together a majority to rule anew.
The election is seen as a test of strength for the separatist movement in Spain’s northeastern region as 5.3 million voters were called to take part.
A high level of abstentions was anticipated as the country battles a third wave of the pandemic.
The regional government insisted it had put in place all necessary health and security measures, laying on antigen tests for voting staff, providing spacious and well-ventilated polling stations and measures to ensure social distancing.
The Madrid government under Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez hopes the vote will unseat the region’s ruling separatists. More than three years ago they failed to break away from Spain by holding an illegal referendum.
The Catalan government has been dominated by separatists since 2015 but this election has been overshadowed by a bitter split between the separatist factions following the failed independence bid of 2017 that sparked Spain’s worst political crisis in decades.