Confused about which parties are running, what they stand for and who might team up with whom? The Guardian’s Madrid correspondent Sam Jones produced this handy list as part of his guide to the election published earlier today:
- Junts per Catalunya (JuntsxCat, Together for Catalonia). The revamp of Catalonia for Yes, the deposed coalition government of ERC and Puigdemont’s Convergència i Unió. The new group insists Puigdemont is the only legitimate president and that the illegal 1 October referendum is the basis for an independent republic, but backs away from committing to a timescale for independence.
- Esquerra Repúblicana Catalana (ERC, Catalan Republican Left). ERC is going it alone rather than in coalition with Puigdemont. Its leader, Oriol Junqueras, is in prison, which could give him a moral advantage over Puigdemont, who skipped the country.
- Partit dels Socialistes de Catalunya (PSC, Catalan Socialist party). The PSC upset many party members by backing Madrid over direct rule but in Miquel Iceta has a leader with strong appeal to anti-independence voters. Open to coalition but not with secessionists.
- Partit Popular de Catalunya (PPC, Catalan People’s party). Catalan wing of Spain’s ruling, conservative People’s party. Vows to dismantle pro-independence institutions established over recent years and reform Catalan public TV and radio. Could play vital role in any anti-independence coalition.
- Ciutadans (Citizens party). Centre-right, anti-independence party on course for about 25% of vote under leader Inés Arrimadas. Vows to heal the wounds of divided Catalan society. Won’t form government with secessionists but could end up leading left-right coalition of PP, socialists and the leftwing Catalonia in Common.
- Catalunya en Comú (Catalonia in Common). Catalan version of the anti-austerity Podemos party. Struggling to shake off accusations of being soft on independence and establish clear identity as left alternative. May well end up as kingmaker.
- Candidatura d’Unitat Popular (CUP, Popular Unity Candidacy). The anti-capitalist CUP, whose 10 seats gave Together for Yes a majority, regards the election as illegitimate because it was called by the Spanish government but is standing nonetheless. Refuses to countenance any road other than a unilateral declaration of independence. Current polls suggest its vote is falling.
Turnout heading for new record
Welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of Catalonia’s snap regional election, triggered in late October by the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, as Madrid took control of the region in the wake of its illegal independence referendum and unilateral declaration of independence.
The bitterly contested vote is finely poised, with the pro-independence Catalan Republican Left party (ERC) neck-and-neck in the polls with the unionist, centre-right Ciutadans (Citizens). Its outcome will determine the next phase of the region’s long-running campaign for independence from Spain.
Neither party is expected to win a majority in the region’s 135-member chamber and a number of different coalition permutations look possible, making a hung parliament and protracted negotiations to form a new government all but inevitable – with article 155 of the Spanish constitution, which allows Madrid to maintain direct rule, in place until it is formed.
Tensions remain high in Catalonia. The deposed regional president, Carles Puigdemont, has been campaigning from Belgium after fleeing charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds, while his former number two, Oriol Junqueras, is in jail with two other prominent independence leaders.
With a record turnout expected, the outcome could hinge on the more than 20% of voters who are undecided. The Barcelona newspaper La Vanguardia will be publishing an exit poll soon after polls close at 8pm local time and confirmed results should be available fairly quickly, with around 80% of votes expected to be counted by 10.30pm.