Campaigning ends, Catalonia prepares for snap regional elections

World Today

A giant yellow ribbon is displayed in a building in support of Catalonian politicians who have been jailed on charges of sedition in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. Catalans choose new political leaders in a highly contested election on Thursday that comes in extraordinary circumstances. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

It’s been a frantic two-weeks of campaigning in Catalonia for the snap regional elections on Thursday. This comes after the Spanish government took direct control of Catalonia in October after the region voted for independence. Final poll numbers show a split among Catalans though, with half wanting to stay with Spain.

CGTN’s Al Goodman reports.

The end of an unusual campaign for Catalan parliament, before Thursday’s elections, watched closely by Spain and the European Union.

How unusual this candidate, the deposed Catalan vice president, is in prison in Madrid, charged with rebellion and pushing for Catalonia’s independence, while the ousted Catalan president is campaigning from Brussels.

He is facing arrest if he comes home, for trying to unilaterally break Catalonia away, which is not allowed under Spanish law.

“It’s absolutely unusual. It’s a very weird campaign,” said Oriol Bartomeus, political science professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. “We have almost 10 people, candidates, that are even in jail or in Belgium.”

The political science professor said a record turnout of around 80 percent is predicted.

Analysts said that might help unionists, like the Citizens Party, which wants to stay in Spain.

Support for independence is strong in the three Catalan provinces surrounding Barcelona. And in those provinces, under the proportional voting system here, it takes far fewer votes to win a seat in parliament than in heavily populated Barcelona province.

With the election headed to a razor thin finish, it’s unclear whether either side will come away with a decisive victory and enough support to form a ruling coalition.