In Brief

Catalonia heads to the polls for Madrid-ordered elections

It’s unclear whether separatist politicians can renew majority that allowed independence declaration

Catalonia voters head to the polls today to decide whether to return their separatist politicians to power or install a pro-unity government.

Polls indicate the pro-independence Catalan Republican Left (ERC) party and the centrist, anti-independence Ciudadanos are leading - but neither is expected to achieve a parliamentary majority.

The outcome could be a hung parliament, where no single party has a majority.

According to Spain's El Pais newpaper, the “cliffhanger” election is “likely to be followed by a period of intense political jockeying”. The BBC agrees, saying there seems “little prospect that the election will solve the region's political crisis”.

According to The Local, the risk is that “no one will come forward to support a winner, opening the way to lengthy negotiations, followed by deadlock”.

Quartz Media says a stalemate could mean continuing turmoil. Some analysts are betting on another election early next year.

Two leaders are vying to become Catalonia’s next president: Carles Puigdemont, who is fighting the race from Brussels where he fled following the independence vote, and Oriol Junqueras, his former vice president, who remained in Spain and has spent six weeks in prison.

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