Catalans vote in regional elections to gauge the strength of the separatist movement.

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Separatist parties appear in danger of losing their decades-old hold on Spain's northeastern Catalonia region as the pro-union Socialist Party is set to win the most votes in Sunday's election. is ready. Almost complete counting of ballots.

Four pro-independence parties led by former regional president Carles Puigdemont's Together party are poised to win a total of 61 seats, short of the crucial 68 seats needed for a majority in the chamber.

Socialists led by former Minister of Health Salvador Ella. He is on track to win 42 seats, up from 33 in 2021, when he also narrowly secured the highest number of votes but failed to form a government.

The Socialists will still need to win the support of other parties to put Allah in charge. Deal-making in the coming days, perhaps weeks, will be key to forming a government. There is no question of a hung parliament or fresh elections.

But Ella's rise should bode well for Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and the Socialists ahead of European Parliament elections next month.

The separatists have held the regional government in Barcelona since 2012 and won four consecutive regional elections. But polls and national elections in July showed that support for secession had shrunk since Puigdemont led an illegitimate – and futile – leadership. Broken speech In 2017

Sánchez's Socialists have since invested heavily in easing tensions in Catalonia, including pardoning jailed high-profile separatists and demanding amnesty for Puigdemont and hundreds of others.

More than 5.7 million voters were called to participate. Thousands of potential voters may have had trouble getting to their polling stations after Catalonia's commuter rail service had to shut down several train lines after authorities said a train installation near Barcelona exposed copper wires. It was stolen.

Puigdemont's Together party is poised to restore leadership of the separatist camp with 35 seats, up from 32 three years ago. He fled Spain after a 2017 secession attempt and has campaigned from southern France on a pledge to return home when lawmakers meet to elect a new regional president in the coming weeks. will go.

Puigdemont's escape from Spain became the stuff of legend among his followers, and a source of great embarrassment to Spain's law enforcement agencies. He recently denied during the campaign that he hid in the trunk of a car to avoid detection while he slipped across the border during a legal crackdown that Several of his associates were imprisoned until the Sanchez government pardoned them.

Pere Aragones, the current regional president of the Republican Left of Catalonia, lost 33 to 20 seats. .

The six seats of the far-left Comuns-Sumar could also be important for a possible Illa coalition.

The Popular Party, the largest party in Spain's national parliament where it leads the opposition, jumped from three to 15 seats.

The far-right, Spanish ultra-nationalist party Vox won 11 of its seats, while at the other end of the spectrum, the far-left pro-Separatist Cup took four seats, down from nine.

The pro-separatist, far-right Catalan Alliance, which opposes illegal immigration as well as the Spanish state, will enter the chamber for the first time with two seats.

Oh Record dryIndependence, not independence, is currently the biggest concern of Catalans, according to the latest poll by Catalonia's public opinion office.

The polling office said 50 percent of Catalans were against independence, while 42 percent were in favor, meaning support had fallen to 2012 levels. When Puigdemont left in 2017, 49% were in favor of independence and 43% were against.

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