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Polls close in historic election

At 8pm, voting ended for one of Catalonia’s most unprecedented elections

 

 

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21 December 2017 07:40 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

As the clock struck 8, polling stations for the December 21 Catalan elections closed. More than 2,500 of them were open at 9am, giving citizens 11 hours to line up to cast their ballots. And line up they did, with flooding the stations first thing in the morning.

Exit poll: Cs and Esquerra fight for first spot

According to exit polls published by the by Grupo Godó media corporation, Ciutadans and Esquerra would fight for the first place with 34-37 seats and 34-36 seats respectively. Pro-independence parties are likely to keep the majority in the chamber with 67-71 seats (majority is 68), according to the estimation. In just two hours, at 10pm, more precise knowledge of the reelection results will already be known.

Voter turnout promises to be high

By 1pm, the voter turnout was already counted at 34.6%, just over 1 in 3 citizens, 2 points less compared to the 2015 elections. In the following hours, by 6pm, voter turnout then skyrocketed to 68.3%, 5 points higher than the election two years ago. It has also been noted that the 2015 elections did not take place on a weekday as this year’s have, a factor which may have influenced the turnout. Two years ago, the highest number ever recorded for voter turnout was 77% (excluding overseas votes, which after being included brought the percentage down to 75%).

An unprecedented election

Even without a historic voter turnout, this election day has been crucial, as citizens are asked to have their say after this autumn’s high tension, with episodes including the police violence on October 1, the declaration of independence and the enforcement of direct rule of Catalonia from Madrid. There are two clear blocs running in the vote, the pro-independence and the unionist ones. In between, Catalonia in Common is non-aligned.

Why Catalans are voting today

This is indeed the first time that Catalans have queued to vote in an election called by the Spanish government and not the Catalan one. These December 21 polls were in fact called as part of Article 155, the Spanish Constitution’s so-called ‘nuclear option,’ as Mariano Rajoy’s government’s response to the Catalan declaration of independence on October 27. Another measure of the article included the immediate dissolution of the current Catalan government, of which half the members are currently in exile in Brussels, and the other half were incarcerated. All but two of the imprisoned ministers—vice president Oriol Junqueras and Home Affairs minister Joaquim Forn—have since been released. 

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  • Voters cast their ballots on December 21 2017 (by Núria Julià)

  • Voters cast their ballots on December 21 2017 (by Núria Julià)