People across Catalonia went to the polling stations for a regional election yesterday in what many observers were calling the most important vote in Spain in the forty years since democracy was restored.
On going to press polls were just closing with the result seemingly on a knife edge and Spain waiting with bated breath to see whether pro-independence parties would secure a majority in the 135-seat regional parliament again, or the pro-union parties would make a breakthrough.
In all 5.5 million Catalans of voting age on the electoral roll were called to vote, unusually for Spain on a working day rather than a Sunday. Many parents complained that they had had to find childcare as schools closed for the day. Rolling figures by early evening suggested a turnout six percentage points up on the last regional elections in 2015.
Opinion polls before the vote had shown the pro-Spain Ciudadanos party, under Inés Arrimadas, slightly ahead of the ERC, supporting an independent republic. However the final distribution of seats and how the seven main parties expected to win seats would pact between them was the most eagerly awaited news last night.
Elections were called by Madrid when the regional parliament was dissolved in October over an illegal declaration of independence.