Separatist parties in Spain’s semi-autonomous Catalonia region will boost their majority in the local parliament, near-complete results suggest.
With more than 90% of votes counted, the three parties are on course to get 74 seats in the 135-strong assembly, up from 70 in the outgoing parliament.
That would allow them to govern, despite splits on major issues.
Meanwhile, the unionist Socialist Party looks likely to win the biggest share of the vote.
The backdrop of this Sunday’s election was far removed from the last one, just over three years ago, says BBC World Service Europe regional editor Danny Aeberhard.
Then, it was the fervour of a rancorous dispute with Madrid over independence, he says. Now, it has been the coronavirus pandemic – with polling station staff decked out in full protective gear at the end of the day to enable those who had tested positive for the virus to vote. But politically, the result seems to be similar.
Catalonia, home to the city of Barcelona, is an affluent region in north-eastern Spain with about 7.5 million people.
Its drive for independence plunged Spain into its biggest political crisis in 40 years in 2017. The region had its autonomy suspended for almost seven months by the central government in Madrid after a failed bid to break away.
In 2019, Spain’s Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan politicians and activists to jail terms of between nine and 13 years for that independence bid.