Spain's Socialist PM Pedro Sanchez aims to defeat separatists in Catalan vote

Polling closed in the election in Spain's wealthy northeastern region of Catalonia on Sunday, when more than 5.7 million voters were eligible to vote in a contest that will have reverberations throughout Spanish politics.

The ballot will gauge the strength of the Catalan separatist and the success of the policies of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

Potentially thousands of voters had trouble reaching their polling stations after Catalonia’s commuter rail service had to shut down several train lines after what officials said was the robbery of copper cables from a train installation near Barcelona.

Participation at 6 p.m. local time (1600 GMT) was 45%, roughly the same as the last election in 2021 when health restrictions for the COVID-19 pandemic were still in place.

Separatists have held the regional government in Barcelona for more than a decade. But polling and a national election in July show that support for secession has shrunk somewhat since former regional president Carles Puigdemont led an illegal — and futile — breakaway bid in 2017.

By that time, Puigdemont hopes to be cleared of any legal troubles after Spain’s parliament gives final approval to a contentious amnesty for him and hundreds of other separatists.


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