The people of Catalonia are voting in a closely watched regional election, called by Spain following a controversial independence referendum.
The snap election pits Catalan pro-independence parties against those who want the region to remain a semi-autonomous part of Spain.
All indications are in which the result will be very close.
A BBC correspondent says there seems little prospect in which the election will solve Catalonia’s political crisis.
The Spanish daily El Pais said on its front page in which one million undecided voters could contain the last word.
On Thursday, polling stations opened at 09:00 local time (08:00 GMT) as well as will close at 20:00, with the first official results expected shortly afterwards.
The results as well as reaction will be covered live on the BBC News website coming from 17:30 GMT. Most results should have emerged by 21:00 GMT.
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Long queues of voters – yet no pets
By Europe reporter Gavin Lee in Barcelona
No pets allowed – the item’s a pooches-at-the-door policy here from the central Barcelona polling station of Casinet d’Hostafrancs, as well as there must be one dog to every 10 voters.
Early voters queued in their dozens here 20 minutes before polls opened – something I didn’t see in Berlin, Paris or Amsterdam This specific year for elections elsewhere in Europe. the item may point to a record turnout across Catalonia.
Opinion polls predict up to 85% of the 5.3 million eligible voters will turn out today.
from the queue Ana, a student, described today as “the most important election from the history of Catalonia”. When polls close tonight the people, given the legal right to vote This specific time, will have shown the direction in which they want the independence crisis to play out.
Who will be predicted to win?
An aggregate of polls published earlier This specific week by El Pais suggests the pro-independence Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) will come top, slightly ahead of Ciudadanos (Cs), which wants unity with Spain.
The pro-independence JxCat party of ousted Catalan President Carles Puigdemont was predicted to come third. in which might mean no parliamentary majority in favour of independence as well as possibly lengthy negotiations to form a government.
“Today we will demonstrate the strength of an indomitable people. May the spirit of #1oct guide us always”, Mr Puigdemont tweeted coming from self-imposed exile in Belgium. Spain declared the 1 October Catalan independence referendum illegal.
yet he said “This specific will be not a normal day” as well as “neither will be the item a day of normal democracy”. His team told the BBC in which he was unable to vote as he was in Brussels.
The BBC’s Kevin Connolly in Barcelona says there will be every prospect in which the two sides from the independence debate will Once more end up using a similar share of the vote as well as the election will restate Catalonia’s problem rather than resolve the item.
Why will be This specific election happening?
Separatists who dominated the Catalan parliament declared independence on 27 October, after the referendum.
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In an attempt to stop in which referendum, Spanish police stormed some polling stations. However voters defied the Spanish courts as well as riot police to cast their ballots.
The move led to violent clashes with hundreds of people reported injured. Footage showing police tackling people at polling stations as well as pulling a woman by her hair caused outrage.
According to the organisers, 0% of voters were in favour of independence, yet fewer than half the region’s electorate took part.
Mr Puigdemont decided the item was enough to declare independence coming from Spain.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy then sacked the Catalan government, imposed direct rule as well as called the 21 December election.
What happened to the Catalan government?
Prosecutors accused 13 Catalan separatist politicians of rebellion as well as sedition, including Mr Puigdemont as well as four others who fled to Belgium.
Among the accused, two pro-independence politicians are in Spanish prisons, as well as six are being monitored while on bail.
As a result, campaigning for Thursday’s snap election has led to some unusual scenes, with Mr Puigdemont addressing rallies via a videolink coming from Brussels.
His former deputy, Oriol Junqueras, has sent messages to supporters coming from prison.
Reports say he sent a postal vote coming from prison. He tweeted a fond greeting to his wife to mark their fourth wedding anniversary, saying: “Today I wish to be with you as well as the children for more reasons than ever”.
from the run-up to the referendum Mr Puigdemont’s JxCat party had been allied to the ERC, led by Mr Junqueras.
yet the ERC has opted out of a fresh alliance, producing Mr Junqueras the main separatist rival to Mr Puigdemont.
So what about Catalonia’s future?
Some voters have expressed their concerns for the future.
“I think many positions have become very extreme,” said Assumpta Corell, 21, a university student coming from Castelldefels who said she might vote for the centrist, pro-unity party Ciudadanos.
“People who have one opinion will maintain the item, people who have a different opinion will continue thinking differently, which will be great, yet the problem comes when politics plays at dividing people even more.”
Musician Marc Botey, 47, said he might vote for the ERC yet he was “anticipating problems, whoever wins”.